For the first time in several weeks, I had a bad day. My usual morning austerity just kept rolling downhill. This evening, reading 10 Habits You Must Quit to Be Happy, I had a minor epiphany.
Right now, the past and the future do not exist. Our lives are a series of moments but each one evaporates, leaving only one.
This isn't news to me, just a fresh terminology. It is unrealistic and unhealthy to expect to be happy all the time. However, we must meet each good and bad fortune, each success and tragedy, with as much hospitality as possible. Humour, creativity, adaptability and courage will also help. You can probably think of other useful attitudes.
During my darkest period in winter 1996 I happened to be reading a book that saved my life, Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. That is how I arrived at my guiding motto: "These are our few live seasons. Let us live them purely as we can, in the present."
I recently started an account on Pinterest, where I promptly opened a board devoted to the most important thing—the only thing that accompanies us everywhere: this particular live season, this moment. I need inspiration to remind me, constantly.
One good thing about past experience is sometimes it can inspire us: like this photo, this moment walking in the woods behind our house yesterday afternoon. I was afraid I had missed a good look at the tamarack buds exploding, but there they were, as radiant as the first time I saw such a thing.
The memory and photograph are real, but the moment itself no longer exists the way now does. Each present moment, too, can be beautiful in its unique way, unlike any other, if I allow it. We have so many of them, and so few. Don't waste them.
This morning I found Pilgrim at Tinker Creek on this list of 100 Essential Reads, for what it's worth. I was chagrined to note they included only one female author in the 15 fiction classics, but pleasantly surprised to find Dillard in the non-fiction.
I'm glad it helped. It's hard dealing with financial stuff because there is so much stress attached to what might or might not happen. Concentrating on the present doesn't mean ignoring the problem, but addressing it with small steps one day at a time.