Present is a present

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious, you are living in the future.
If you are at peace, you are living in the present. “

With these few simple words, Lao Tzu, 2500 years ago, perhaps without knowing it, was able to perfectly design and predict what the world would be 2500 years after his short life. A world where, statistics in hand, psychiatric drugs are the best-selling drugs in the world and where, precisely, anxiety and depression beat any virus or pandemic hands down in numerical terms. But for some absurd reason they are less scary …

The fact is this. Modern man, son of the post-industrial revolution that placed us in a neo-enlightenment phase, “thinks” too much. Now, allow me, the quotation marks, the term reason can have very different connotations from time to time. In its positive meaning, reasoning is that mental process that leads, for example, to the resolution of a problem. But there is also its negative meaning which is that of reasoning understood as arrovellamento, or that infinite loop of thoughts, fears, pre and post processing that start in the morning as soon as we wake up, already when we take the first look at our smartphone and, if all goes well, they stop when we go to sleep. If we can.
This continuous struggle and, above all, which is more serious, fruitless, is at the basis of psychological problems such as anxiety and depression, but also of physical symptoms such as hypertension, diabetes and obesity (the latter two arise from bad nutrition or the tendency to pour into “junk food” to escape our anxieties).
We think too much and live little.
I believe all this arises from a great misunderstanding of modern man, with respect to what is his real mastery of the three main times of life: the past, the present, and the future.

The past

Encyclopedization and the fact that by now everything is outlined and will be from here to eternity, has distorted our relationship with the past, both in a historical sense (referring to society) and in a sense of life (referring to the individual). At a certain point, the fact of knowing our past by heart gave us the illusion of being able to possess it in some way. But this, my dear, is a very big bullshit. The past is a train that cannot be boarded anymore, and that has gone away with its load of good and bad things. There are those who live in the past because maybe it is there, for example in youth, that they find their best memories. On the other hand, there are those who live in the past because despite being full of trauma, they are unable to detach themselves from it, they do not forget it, or at least, they do not detach them definitively from the present.
Thus were born the great depressions.
And how should one therefore interface with one’s past, good or bad it was? I am obviously unable to offer one-size-fits-all advice. Thinking about the past, I always think of the comparison with a luggage, a backpack, a suitcase. Think about it: these items can be both useful and annoying at the same time. Useful when we travel and need to bring some things with us. Annoying when they represent a burden to our movements. Memories of the past are exactly that for me: a suitcase full of many things, which sometimes comes in handy, for example when it helps me not to repeat the same mistakes I made before, other times it is a small load of melancholy and nostalgia. But it is there, and I carry it with me. I don’t live for her. I live “with” her, she is part of who I am and certainly of what I will be. But I’m always careful to keep it behind my back, and not under the eyes, just to always give it the right weight. Because what has been does not influence too much what I am and who I will be. My past is a “discreet friend”, one of those you feel little but who know that, when there is a need, you can count on them.

The future

What about the future? Ah this damned future! Yes my dear, grant me the term cursed future because here the situation is getting out of hand. Taken from thinking too much above, I see many people around me completely unable to live in the present because they are projected into the future. Then, let’s face it, the future is a time that does not belong to us. Not to be a jinx but it is clear that none of us, not even the one who is bursting with health more than the others, is sure to be able to live that future that everyone thinks about. And then we fall into what I call “the trap of the future”, or that mental mechanism according to which we tend to organize most of our choices today in a future key and not on the basis of what our present is.
There are also those who give up on relationships because, in their own twisted vision of things, they do not seem to fit in with the plans of the future. But what the hell do you (and I get in the way) know about your future? How and what you will love, what you will need. You cannot know. We cannot predict it.

So why not try to send all these cursed anxieties of modern man to the devil about the future by trying to focus on the only time that really belongs to us, the present time, the here and now.
We would discover how incredibly beautiful it is and, if we want, also therapeutic, abandoning ourselves to today, to what it is offering us, to the possibilities of living the moment, as Vasco would say, as if it were the last. The present, my lords, is a very sweet time; it is a placid and hospitable sea, made up of big and small things that our oscillation between past and future does not make us see.
There is a very popular meditation technique in this period, mindfulness, which focuses precisely on attention to the here and now. And you know what happens to an anxious and depressed person when during meditation they manage, perhaps only for 10 minutes, to focus their attention on the here and now in a non-judgmental manner, they discover that they are happy. They discover that at this moment she is fine, there is no pain, there is no fear, there are no problems. They discover that they are surrounded by beauty: in relationships, in family, in friendships.
Focusing on the present is like, for a blind person, returning to see. The world around has always been there, we just didn’t see it: and, I assure you, you can also live under a chimney, but when you don’t see and go back to see that view will seem beautiful too.

The present

But we must, precisely, start thinking again in terms of the present, the only time that truly belongs to us. Hugging it, eating it, licking it as if we were animals prey to an atavistic hunger. We should learn to tie our hands and feet to the beauty the present is offering us.
Abandoning the feelings of guilt, worries.
What about tomorrow? Tomorrow will come, it will be beautiful, it will be ugly whoever knows: it is not something that we will ever be able to influence. But think what a joke it would be to arrive until tomorrow, and discover that it is half a rip-off and that it was not as we had imagined and planned it and maybe, at that moment, regret everything we gave up on what was ours only yesterday here I’m.