Because it seems to be happening to me, I am going to make the educated guess that there comes a point for many of us where we notice that most, if not all the things we do are avenues of distraction, avoidance or simply running away.
Before I go on, I want to say that there is nothing wrong with this – well maybe there is something wrong with this, but I just don’t want to place a value judgment on something that seems to be happening to almost all of us.
So yeah, anyway to go on, most of the things we do, we do in order to avoid a very simple thing that is usually concealed within many complex psychological layers. I am referring to the simplicity and clarity of the here and now. Most of us cloud the here and now with a bunch of activities, thoughts and emotions. It’s like we are terrified of experiencing life directly, clearly and simply.
How do we manifest this terror? We go on pursuits! We pursue happiness, more money, sex, highs, relationships, drama, you name it! It seems like ANYTHING could be used to cloud over and dismiss the simple present moment. There just doesn’t seem to be anything interesting within the here and now, it seems too neutral, too boring, too simple, too obvious, too familiar.
So, when we start to realize this, some of us embark on a “spiritual journey,” some of us embark in a "pursuit of fame and success journey," some of us go into a "getting wasted every night journey." Basically, we hop on whatever wave that seems to carry the promise of getting us outside of the "insufficient" here and now.
Why does the here and now seem so threatening? I’m going to suggest that there are many reasons for this. First, I’m going to say that we have been conditioned by our culture to seek outside of the here and now. Second, and this is not necessarily exclusive of the first, is that we may have traumas that affect our ability to remain in the here and now. Maybe the last time you were consciously here and now (which was most likely during your early childhood) something spooked you out of it. Any kind of abuse will do. As a result of the abuse you might have concluded that being here and now is dangerous, so you programmed yourself to avoid being here and now at all costs. This is something that might have gotten so deeply imprinted in your brain that you have no idea what this article is about.
Let me use myself as an example. I’ve always been a sensitive person, for long I have been terrified of being here and now because I probably have traumas that started back in my early life. When I was here and now (very present) and just being a healthy, normal and natural being, there were adults around me yelling and not too pleased with my behavior. So what did I do? I created my own world in my head, a world that I would use to separate myself from the apparently hostile here and now that had people shouting within it.
Ever since, I’ve been developing different strategies to avoid being here and now. I went to college, largely because I didn’t want to be here now, I smoked cigarettes because I didn’t want to be here now, I became addicted to sex because I didn’t want to be here now, I got in and stayed in unhealthy relationships because I didn’t want to be here now, I wrote tons of pages because I didn’t want to be here now, I worked out three hours a day for three months because I didn’t want to be here now, I read many books because I didn’t want to be here now, I went on a spiritual search because I didn’t want to be here now, I went absolutely nuts because I didn’t want to be here now, the list goes on and on.
My life, and most likely your life, has become all about avoidance of such a simple thing. Not only because of the trauma, but also because we seem to be trained to fear the here and now (which is another form of trauma, by the way).
Now that we are caught in this avoidance pattern, what do we do? Well, just imagine… if, like me, you became conscious of this deep reality and you were to act on it, all the stuff you do to AVOID being here and now would probably start to fall away. It would all start to disintegrate for you (believe me, this would definitely happen). This process, as you can guess is not necessarily fun… this is why most of us hold on tightly to all the distracting mechanisms that we use to avoid being present. I, for example have let go of a lot, but thought is still there with me when I am making my bed. Thought is in the way of the direct experience of making my bed. I start to think about something else as I am making the bed, I must be afraid of simply making my bed! It’s amazing how traumatized we can be without even knowing it! You might say, that’s not fear… but why else would incessant thought be going through my head as I am making my bed?
I suggest that it’s because if I don’t think then I won’t figure the rest of my life out! (A funny endeavor that most of us seem to be engaged in. I think it’s hilarious, don’t you?)
Anyway, the here and now, at least for now is not threatening, there is nothing harmful about consciously coming to the present moment and dwelling in it. Why don’t we both submerge ourselves into it and start to question all the fears that come up around being here now? After all, isn’t the here and now all there really is? A second ago is gone and a second from now is not here yet. So if you’re either in the past or in the future, you’re living in a fantasy. How does that make you feel? Because I certainly keep losing the taste for the unreal more and more, it’s just boring.