Putting It Off is excerpted from Andrew’s new book Western Lights: A Collection of Short Essays On Buddhism.
It’s a Guild cutaway acoustic guitar with Fishman pickups.
It has an onboard tuner and EQ. The sound is big and so is the price tag.
The running joke whenever I walk into a guitar shop is, “I’m just going in to get some strings…oh, and they might have a guitar attached.” I imagine all the things that I could do with it.
If only I had that guitar.
And so for all of us, this is the search for happiness. Our desire to scratch the itch. If I save my money and get the Guild, then I’ll be happy. The trouble is, I already have a beautiful guitar. Not as nice as the one I’m dreaming of, but wonderful just the same.
What drives us to hitch our happiness to the future? When I pine for the guitar, I seem to be saying, “I’m not content right now, but when I get it, boy will I be happy.”
I end up driving a wedge between happiness and now.
Getting Through the Grind
I remember my first job. I was a paperboy. I delivered the Hartford Courant in my neighborhood. I’d be up at 5:00 a.m. on my bike through winter and summer. The memories are vivid.
It was a struggle every day to get out of bed, especially on cold winter mornings. The mindset I adopted was to tell myself to, “just get through this,” for there’d will be better days.
We apply this strategy to all aspects of life, get through the grind now—enjoy later. I coped with school, work, and lots of other parts of my life this way. I learned to put it off. It being life.
Living in Our Own Future
What’s ironic is that we’re living in the moments that we planned for in the distant and not so distant past. If we look around we have many of the possessions, relationships, and comforts that we hoped for not so long ago.
The time to be happy is now.
Sometimes we have to plan for the future. It’s the responsible thing to do. But remember that planning you did yesterday? Yes, well, take some time out to enjoy the fruits of that labor. Be in the moment; be in your relationships, and most of all take time to abide.
So sit down at the piano, or grab your clarinet, or sing that song. Grab some friends and play it together.
There is so much joy to be had—don’t put it off.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Photo: SamahR on Flickr