PAST, FUTURE AND TODAY
A Musing to Self.
By William Olkowski, PhD, 7.15.12.
Apologies to Omar Khayyam but …
this is how I remember the quote:
“Dead yesterday, unborn tomorrow,
Who cares, if today be sweet.”
I have been thinking about these lines ever since I read it.
Sure today is where the senses detect the world around each of us.
And sure, we all make whatever we will of that sensory information.
And if today be sweet who needs the past and who has time to muse about the future. Today is where the action is.
While I live all who I can remember live again and again as I recall them.
Sure, what I make of these memories can change and even be improved as time passes and that is interesting. That makes even a bad experience useful, sometimes. And sure, the past is gone, so all the more reason to live today for that is all we have, ultimately.
Without a past, no learning is possible. Yes, one can learn something new each day, maybe a new mix of colors, or to find a new great paint brush, even meet a new friend, which can change your life. They can all be important. But the past is always present, whether you recall it or not. Its part of who you are. Its part of who I am anyway. Who can forget the beauties of living? Why forget them if they can live again and again. It’s easy to forget bad things sometimes, sort of as a deliberate act of neglect. It’s probably a good thing too. Why carry garbage around, why not recycle it into something useful?
To live without a future means you are dead already. Plant a tree and die if you have to. Seeds in the ground can sprout without you. Seeds into trees leave a memory for friends. Who planted that tree? Someone may ask. I will say, I did and I didn’t care who gets the fruit. An old teacher told me: “There is no limit to the good a person can accomplish if he/she does not care who gets the credit.” It was directed at me, I thought erroneously, but that memory popped up while I was musing about the BIG THREE today. The Big Three, The Past, The Future and Today are intertwined; we separate them with our words, which divide up inner perceptions for focus. It’s OK to focus as long as you remember that all three make up a life. And as for credit, well we can see by our fiscal disaster all can be wiped out in a flash, just like your life.
Like Woody Allen also says: “Whatever Works” to give some modest pleasure, grab it, cultivate it, see it for what it is, and be happy. For this is all there is. All life is in your hands, heart and mind. Sing about it, paint it, mold it, store it, laugh with it all, love it all, for when you are gone, there’s nothing. Emptiness will descend, and cover all your dreams and thoughts. This everlasting vast moonscape will not know you or your thoughts and dreams.
“So tear your pleasures with rough strife through the iron gates of life; and though you cannot make it stand still, we will make it run. (Another apology to Andrew Marvell (1621–1678), from To His Coy Mistress).
Khayyám at work: