Planning For the Future? Living in the Present? Or Better the Other Way Around?

There are many things that we plan. We plan our next vacation, birthday party or the way the next school project is supposed to work.  But if we take a closer look at the examples, we may conclude that there is one big thing that a lot of us are trying to plan and get an exact idea about: the future.

I took an exam recently where one of the sections required to write an essay. After reading a long quote talking about the present and the future, I was asked whether it is more important to enjoy the present or plan for the future (at least something very close to that formulation).

I have met many people who were all crazy about what will happen next in their lives, making all sorts of plans for something that is not even in sight yet. In other words, they were setting things into stone. I used to be one of these people but at some point I realized, that this ´setting in stone´ activity is just a waste of time and energy.

If we can’t tell for sure what will happen next, then how can we be so certain that what we are getting ready for is really going to happen? How can we be sure that all of our time, money and effort we put into this planning will be worth it after all?  The answer to that is pretty simple. We just can’t know anything in advance.

I remember when I was a student in college prep, being a part of this fancy program that would teach you Spanish well enough to make it into a university in Spain, with a possible scholarship from the school I was attending. Sounds like a good thing, huh? Well, I thought the same. So without even having attended one single Spanish class before, I more or less have decided that I will be studying in an university in Spain (note here: I was only in grade 4 back then, one year before attending prep, when the decision was made).

So there I was. Sitting in class absolutely not liking Spanish for the first six months (although meanwhile I just love it), but still working hard to get into this university program. Then, coming home from school on a day in April, I am being told that the family will be moving to Kosova in a few months. This pretty much meant: Bye, bye Spanish class and bye, bye studying in Spain after 4 years of hard and exhausting academic work now worth nothing.

The reason why I am writing this down is because this particular experience showed me how pointless it is to get head over heels into the planning of the future, acting like everything has been decided.  It makes much more sense to enjoy the now and here because doing that you can at least get something out of the situation you are in, instead of just letting it pass by. We should let the present shape us to what we will become. The potential and skills we will need in the future, can only be obtained from living in the present. If we don’t, we may just miss something that may change us to something better. As Boris Pasternak said once: “When a great moment knocks on the door of your life, it is often no louder than the beating of your heart, and it is very easy to miss it. ”