Friday, September 12, 2008

Live now

I've been thinking a lot about "living in the now" after having read a few books about the subject. It makes a lot of sense to me to enjoy now, because it's the only time I can do anything about, really. We think we can do something about the future, but really what we're really doing is stuff NOW that MAY affect the future. We're not really IN the future, affecting it.

So, it makes no sense to freak out about the future. I can plan. Planning is good, but worrying never solved anything. This simple idea has changed my life. The very idea that there's a difference between planning and worrying was revolutionary to me when I first heard it. I suspect it's the same for most people.

I was once the Queen of what I call "extrapolating." I'd have a conversation - okay, argument - about money with my ex, for instance. I'd take that "conversation" and start worrying about the day my son with autism, now 11, turns 21 and is no longer in public school but will probably still need to be watched constantly, I'll no longer get child support from my ex, so I'll need more income to replace that money which I won't be able to do because if I get a full-time job, who's going to watch my son? And then there's health insurance. If I can't work fulltime, how will I get health insurance I can afford, because I'll be getting older and more of a risk, and what if I got sick, what if my ex got sick, what if neither of us could take care of my son any longer....ack! These thoughts all became a jumble of pure panic, and the scenarios I imagined for ten years into the future became more and more dire.

One day, I was "extrapolating" on the phone to my sister. She must have gotten fed up, because she interrupted me at some point and said, "Julie, you're thinking up all the BAD things that could happen. MAYBE some GOOD things will happen, too." It's crazy, literally, how that never occurred to me. I decided then and there to stop extrapolating - just STOP. It hasn't always been easy, but I'm getting better at it all the time. It's changed my life. It's changed the way I think about my son and our life, our future. Our Now.

I'm thinking of taking up "extrapolating" again, but with good things. Only with good things.

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