I have a problem. A very 21st century problem, in fact that, somehow, one day, crept up on me and consumed entirely my ability to function as part of society.
I am not "present".
Whilst it might land on the more existential end of modern day crises, it is nonetheless damaging to myself and those around me, and with the rise of irritatingly perky and optimistic motivational thinking, I feel like it's time to do something about it, once and for all.
We live in a world that is thriving to better itself, that is constantly moving forward. Technology advances at staggering speeds, cultural opinion warps and balloons right in front of our eyes, and popular media tries on new and ever changing costumes. In a sense, we have never lived more in the moment than we do right now and yet, on the other hand, we are slipping away from reality as we know it.
A recent "hackathon" was televised across the United Kingdom, presenting some of the finest young minds in Europe as they created our future in lines of code. This was to be a vibrant social event, necessary for the advancement of our society and indicative of the future that we are creating for ourselves. However, when the cameras swooped across lines of bespectacled youths, staring blankly, silently into their computer screens, something seemed a little off. These were the children who will undoubtedly snap up the technological and coding jobs that we are so desperately crying out for; they are the future of business and commerce. And yet, when reporters tried to squeeze a sentence or two of verbal communication out of the bewildered youths, it was hard to feel much excitement, or anticipation, or anything from them. They were so focused on their position in changing the world in the future, that they had forgotten to exist in the present.
Whilst it is businesses which we tend to think of as being "future obsessed", this very modern phenomenon has in fact begun to infiltrate every part of our existence. We take exams to reach university. We complete degrees to get a job. We overcome challenges to get a promotion. Over time, we plot our life like a series of chess moves and with everything to play for, our only concern is where we will make the next leap. We spend our lives teetering on the edge of our present situation, bettering ourselves in order to create a more comfortable tomorrow. The only issue is, once tomorrow actually comes around, we seem to forget exactly what it was we were hoping to achieve.
We move forward to make a better life for ourselves. And for the most part, we do. However, if the lives we are living are based on the prospect of things to come, rather than the here and now, it's worth asking; does the "present" even exist?
Life is like a piece of music, or a long novel. We are attracted to these art forms not because of their closing statements, or their final, stuttering exclamations but rather, because of the places to which they take us along the way. The notes of the music are what carry us along and it is because of them that a musical ending might turn out to be so sweet. The end means nothing without everything that comes before.
Spending our lives looking to the next generation's future is certainly a responsible and logical way in which to pass our time. It's just that in doing so, we run the risk of overlooking the world in which we are living right now. So, as I close my computer screen tonight, it is with the well-worn intention of shutting off from tomorrow's worries and enjoying the evening for what it will bring. While tomorrow's music might be better than today's, the present is all I have right now, so I'm going to live in it for a little while.