“I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living now.” ― Paolo Coelho, The Alchemist
If you haven’t read The Alchemist, read it as soon as you get a chance. It’s the story about a boy who has a dream about buried treasure. A wise man tells him to follow his dream, so the boy sets out on the long journey from his home in Spain to the find his fortune. Along the way, he meets good and bad people and experiences success and great loss. Once he arrives at his destination, the boy realizes that the treasure was the journey itself.
What fascinated me about the story was how the boy immersed himself in what was happening to him at any given moment. While his ultimate goal was realizing his dream, he didn’t let that get in the way of experiencing the journey one moment at a time. For most of my life, this concept has been totally foreign to me. I’ve always lived, not in the present, but analyzing past events to create a better future. I was always a few steps ahead of myself.
Unlike the boy in The Alchemist, I spent most of my life preparing and planning for future success and happiness. In the process, I didn’t fully experience the joy and sadness life had to offer. A health crisis four years ago forced me to live one day at a time. Shortly after recovering, a good friend recommended that I read Paolo Coelho’s masterful fable. I found the tale to be profound, yet perplexing.
Although the meaning of the story resonates with me, I still struggle to truly understand the concept of living in the present. Like most people, I worry about the mortgage, paying for my daughters’ education, and funding retirement. Voice-mail, e-mail, texts, and social media are always there to distract me from the present moment. Despite these distractions, I now try to live one day at a time.
Every once I awhile, I’m able live in the here and now. For me, it’s different and kind of strange, but it’s fulfilling. I better understand what it means to be alive. As I write, I hear birds singing outside my window, see trees swaying in the wind, and smell the freshness of morning through an open door. They’ve always been there, I just didn’t know it. I’m reminded that when I concentrate on the present, I appreciate the sights, sounds, and smells of life. I think everyone should give it a try.
As Coelho writes, “life is the moment we’re living now.”