Imagine that you are given the opportunity to enter a simulation program that allowed you to seemingly go back in time. You would be transferred into your young body during your senior year in high school, or possibly another time in your life you enjoyed. You wouldn’t actually be going back in time; since it’s a simulation, you could do anything you wanted without worrying about how it affects your future. You would be allowed in the program for one week.
What would you do?
Of course, the answers are individual to everyone. Hang out with some friends you’ve lost touch with. Enjoy the Mexican pizza from the cafeteria you liked and haven’t eaten in years. Play your heart out in band practice, as it’s the first time you’ve touched a trombone since high school. Make sure to say “hi” and even hug that favorite teacher that actually passed away five years ago. Take in all the sights, sounds and smells of the Friday night football game. Drive around proudly in that piece of crap car you had that you now miss. Maybe even ask that guy or girl out that you never had the courage to way back when.
Now imagine that at the end of the week, the simulator made a mistake, and you were stuck in it another week, but in someone else’s life. The simulator made you a pastry chef in
What would you do?
Again, the answers are individual, but certainly most people would make the best of it. Get up early, smell the Parisian air, make those delicious pastries, and serve the French customers. When you were finished with your workday, you’d go exploring old
In both scenarios, you would make sure to enjoy every minute that you possibly could in the simulation. You know it is temporary, and there is no effect on the future, so you’d make sure to see every sight, hear every sound, and smell every scent.
Now ask yourself: do you put this much attention into enjoying the actual moments in your real life?
Why would you enjoy the high school simulation more than the moments when you were actually in high school? Did you take it for granted? Were you worried about achieving some future happiness instead? So many people put off being happy, or even paying attention to the moment they are in, for some perceived bliss in the future:
I can’t wait until we move to that new neighborhood!
It’s going to be so great when I finally graduate college!
My new plasma TV will be delivered on Wednesday!
When I get that promotion, we’ll be living on easy street!
I sure can’t wait to retire…that will be the life!
However, how many times do you reach a goal and find out it’s not all you thought it would be? Or perhaps it was, but you were too busy thinking about the next goal to pay attention? Are you actually living your life? Are you paying attention?
Every moment you have is precious. Even now, as you are reading this blog, amazing things are happening all around you. Maybe it is simply your young daughter learning a new word, or a bird laying eggs in its nest outside your window, or just light jazz playing on your stereo…but this moment is not ordinary. It is unique and will never ever happen again.
So what if you are not in high school anymore? So what if you can’t walk down cobblestone streets in
In many ways, this life is like a simulation. We have no idea why we are here and why there are certain rules like gravity, respiration, fluid and thermal dynamics, and temporary existence. However, we have no choice but to live in this simulation, and therefore we should always make the absolute best of it. Stop stressing over some future plans for happiness. Start enjoying your life’s moments now!
Are you paying attention?
(This essay was in no small way inspired by the movie “Peaceful Warrior”, which I saw about a month ago. Many of the ideas have been rattling around in my head for years, but the movie helped me put it together. While the movie is not a masterpiece, it is still very good and, more importantly, delivers an excellent, possibly life-changing message. I highly recommend it. For those that came here expecting my normal humor-based fare, I promise I will return to immature bathroom jokes in my next writing effort.)