One of my favorite quotes goes like this:
NdT – 2019

One of the reasons this quote continues to stick with me comes from how I read it. I read it like an invitation to come back to right now. To this moment. To once again wake up to the life that is a gift and is only ever happening in the present. Let me explain why I read these words like an invitation.

To appreciate what NdT is getting at, consider the following two questions:

  1. Where is the past?
  2. Where is the future?

Let’s start with the past. One of the people I turn to for words of guidance and inspiration is the Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist, Irvin D. Yalom. In his book, Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death Yalom tells the story of working with a client who was desperately clinging to the past:

“… sooner or later she had to give up the hope for a better past.”

Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death.

These words jumped off the page at me as if they were written in lighting; shocking me out of the lovely trance I was in reading Yalom’s book. It felt a bit like Yalom had thrown a stick into my bike wheel, tossing me unexpectedly from my comfortable perch back into reality. Thankfully, the landing was soft, but the message struck hard! As these words took rook I began to wonder:

How much time had I wasted in my life lost in thought, pouring over what had happened back there in the past?! Somehow hoping that if I just remembered it again and worked it out "the right way," somehow, thinking about it one more time would fix it.
This is the essence of rumination.

In truth, the past is:



/ˌɪn.əkˈses.ə.bəl /

inaccessible adjective (DIFFICULT TO REACH)

very difficult or impossible to travel to or reach:

one of the most inaccessible places in the world

Some of the houses on the hillside are inaccessible to cars.

Cambridge Dictionary

I am not suggesting we throw our memories, scrapbooks, or the past itself out. Of course, we need our past in order to be who we are today. Without our history, good and bad, we wouldn’t be, well, us.
I’m also not suggesting we “accept” everything in our past as somehow “okay” especially if things from the past are very much not Ok! But, if we can’t go back there, if we can’t change anything from the past are we spending the right energy on the past?
There’s a difference between fondly enjoying memories vs. ruminating about how things might have been different.

If there are things from the past keeping you stuck (trauma is an example) my invitation to you is to schedule some time with a therapist; beyond that ask yourself one question about your thoughts re the past:

  • Is my time spent thinking about the past taking me toward what I want now, toward honoring my core values?

If the honest answer to this question is an unreserved: Yes! Then by all means, continue. If not, consider the energy the past is taking, especially since the past truly is inaccessible.

But what about the future? I mean, I need to make plans to accomplish the goals I have in life, right?!

Of course, we all need to (and should) plan for the future!
But I also read NdT’s quote from Twitter as a caution. If the future is truly unknowable then try to honestly ask yourself:

How much time have I wasted in my life worrying about the future?


/ ˌən-ˈnō-ə-bəl /


If you describe something as unknowable, you mean that it is impossible for human beings to know anything about it.

a God whose nature is unknown and unknowable.

Werriam-Webster Dictionary

My invitation about the future is to be mindful about letting planning for the future turn into worry.
Plan, yes; worry, no!

Here are a few steps that can help create a balance between living in the present moment and also planning for the future:

  1. Identity Core Values.
  2. Create SMART Goals Orienting Life Toward Core Values.
  3. Check In Frequently (& With Kindness) To See if Behaviors Are Moving Toward Values.
  4. Truly Accept That Life Is A Journey, NOT A Destination.
  5. Repeat Steps 1-4 Often.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Ferris Bueller

I’ll let Sam Harris close this month’s newsletter (longer version here: LINK; if you don’t like Sam, that’s fine. I get it; he’s said some things I don’t agree with either! He is a good voice on finding the present, but if you want another option, Thich Nhat Hanh is also a nice way to close: LINK):

This post does not constitute therapeutic counseling or advice; the contents of this post are provided as a learning resource. We share the contents hoping that if you are in need of mental health support you will reach out to us directly or to a mental health professional in your area.