Birds | Philosophy | Seasons

Good Forever

There is no past and no future; no one has ever entered those two imaginary kingdoms. There is only the present. Do not worry about the future, because there is no future. Live in the present and for the present, and if your present is good, then it is good forever.” – Leo Tolstoy

Here is the present, such that it is. On the whole you’d call it good (we woke up didn’t we?), yet more challenging than other days we might remember. But that’s the trap, isn’t it? Comparison to fond memories robs the present as much as dreams of the future does. There’s only today, buttercup. Dance to the song the band is playing now.

I walked outside to a red dawn and a chorus of nuthatches noisily haw-hawing their way up and down the tree trunks. They know where the party is: it’s right here, right now! Nothing lives in the moment like a wild animal. It’s the humans who get all wound up in past moments, or stirred up about what may come to pass in the future. These are stories we tell ourselves. If I’ve learned anything balancing 5-6 books I’m reading at a time, it’s that you can’t read them all at once. So stick to the story of the present.

The flip side of the present being good is that it isn’t very good at all. If that’s the case, then it seems we must accept what we’ve got and work on making something of this moment that is better than it might have been. Those nuthatches would probably prefer an endless summer of warm days and tasty bugs. They woke up to a leaf-less, cold November morning. But they were singing away in the trees this morning like it was Whoville on Christmas morning. You can learn a lot about living from a nuthatch.

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