Most of the time I live in the future or past. I have noticed that this is not helpful in processing problems in the here and now. I have slowly become more aware of how my understanding of how time, past, present, and future, has an enormous impact of my time boundary lines.
Once on a retreat I had an epiphany during a meditation and had come to some realization about being in the here and now. I was overwhelmed and excited about my new understanding of how I could live every moment right here! I was feeling so aware and present!
So, feeling highly aware, I went to breakfast. I got in line for food and slowly moved through the line in joy and feeling pretty enlightened. And, happy about my insight. I moved in the line totally lost in my awareness. Then I went to put a pancake on my plate I realized that I had no plate. It seems that I was in the here and now enough to remember to get a knife and fork but forgot a plate. I stood there in an awareness that hadn’t been there a second ago. Me, my pancake on a spatula, my fork, and no plate.
I can only guess where my brain was at the time. Probably lost pretending that I was in the here and now. I was not in the future or past but neither was I in the moment. My ego was absorbed in my thoughts. I had to start laughing. Even when at a retreat designed to help me be in the here and now, I was simply not here. I was too busy hiding in my mind.
The good thing that came out of this was I started to realize that the reference frames of awareness, awakened, enlightened, stream entry, and all the other metaphors really relied on observations and self reports. I was thinking that paying attention, what they used to yell at me in grade school, PAY ATTENTION BRYAN!, was a pretty good idea. And much more worthy of my time and effort that being delusionally enlightened or aware.
I started to focus my attention on, well, focusing my attention. I quickly realized that the ability to focus my attention was the only ability I had. Not control thoughts or emotions, not super concentration on a single thought or item, and no developing super powers. (I didn’t have money so I couldn’t even be like Batman, money is his superpower. I still love Batman, Bat-woman, and the Bat pets. The only players with no super advantage but playing anyway.) Just the overwhelming, vital, life saving, mood saving, exquisite ability to move my attention from one point to another.
Know what? I am willing to spend the rest of my life practicing that, just attending to what is. Seems like a pretty good way to spend my time and resources.