Saturday, July 23, 2016

Life is Threefold

  How has everyone's summer been? Mine is not only flying by, but it is incredibly busy and there are so many things rushing around in my head these days, it's crazy. I'm currently working at a Christian summer camp for a week at a time with three day breaks and loving it. It's my fifth year as staff and even in just two camps I am happier and more fulfilled there than ever before. Also: exhausted. But that's a given.

  This won't be a very long post, but I figured I should try to update my blog with something because I'm not going to be very un-busy for a month or so yet. And yeah, it's not really about writing, but I hope that some of the things I share in this large ramble might be an encouragement to those of you reading.

  Something I'm learning this summer is that life is a threefold thing.

  Past. Present. Future.

  And you can't just take one at a time.

  If you only focus on the PAST you are going to be miserable. Trust me, been there done that. Focusing only on all the wonderful people, places and things that you miss will bring a bittersweet sadness that - if left to grow - will turn into something hard, cold and lost. It stops you from appreciating the things going on around you for how they are. It's incredibly painful actually to think only about what has happened and go about missing things you can never return to. There's no hope in that. Focusing on the past only has been my struggle for most of my life and is something I am slowly overcoming. It's one thing to appreciate, enjoy and miss certain memories. It's another to live in a frozen world that has happened and can never happen again.

  I've found that some people live only in the PRESENT. Their focus is so wrapped up in the here and now that they often get into trouble. Whether that stems from forgetting about past mistakes and experiences that should dissuade them from certain actions, or not realizing that what you do now has future consequences. Both of these options can lead to trouble. While living totally in the present and just loving the moment you are in is not wrong and can often be wonderful and euphoric, it can get sketchy when it begins to blind you to the possibilities of harm or danger. It's all about balance.

  Now, living strictly for the FUTURE pleasure or excitement will never get you anywhere either. You can never attain the future, thus, you will never be satisfied. You will always be looking for something, unable to be content with what you have and what you had. Many people make this mistake I think, especially in our day and age now. There's always something better to be had than what is had right now. This can do a lot of damage to a person. Constantly hunting and searching for that one thing that will complete them, but that one thing is always one step ahead, never to be attained. Granted, thinking about the future gives you hope and purpose and something to look forward to, but focusing only on what will come will do nothing for you at all.

  This is why I think life is threefold, and why you have to take them all in balance. I think the center of it all, however, should be the present. That is what we are able to use for good and effect, right now, right where we are. Rather than thinking about things that are too late to turn around or about those things we will do at "some point" we should look at what we have now and do our best with it.

  Here is a fitting excerpt from one of my favorite CS Lewis books, The Screwtape Letters, where he discusses the Past, Present and Future.

****READ THIS BOOK, OKAY?****

"The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. He would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present — either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.
Our business is to get them away from the eternal, and from the Present. With this in view, we sometimes tempt a human (say a widow or a scholar) to live in the Past. But this is of limited value, for they have some real knowledge of the past and it has a determinate nature and, to that extent, resembles eternity. It is far better to make them live in the Future. Biological necessity makes all their passions point in that direction already, so that thought about the Future inflames hope and fear. Also, it is unknown to them, so that in making them think about it we make them think of unrealities. In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time — for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays. Hence the encouragement we have given to all those schemes of thought such as Creative Evolution, Scientific Humanism, or Communism, which fix men’s affections on the Future, on the very core of temporality. Hence nearly all vices are rooted in the future. Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead. Do not think lust an exception. When the present pleasure arrives, the sin (which alone interests us) is already over. The pleasure is just the part of the process which we regret and would exclude if we could do so without losing the sin; it is the part contributed by the Enemy, and therefore experienced in a Present. The sin, which is our contribution, looked forward.
To be sure, the Enemy wants men to think of the Future too — just so much as is necessary for now planning the acts of justice or charity which will probably be their duty tomorrow. The duty of planning the morrow’s word is today’s duty; though its material is borrowed from the future, the duty, like all duties, is in the Present. This is now straw splitting. He does not want men to give the Future their hearts, to place their treasure in it. We do. His ideal is a man who, having worked all day for the good of posterity (if that is his vocation), washes his mind of the whole subject, commits the issue to Heaven, and returns at once to the patience or gratitude demanded by the moment that is passing over him. But we want a man hag-ridden by the Future — haunted by visions of an imminent heaven or hell upon earth — ready to break the Enemy’s commands in the present if by so doing we make him think he can attain the one or avert the other — dependent for his faith on the success or failure of schemes whose end he will not live to see. We want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow’s end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future every real gift which is offered them in the Present."
  Have you guys been having any philosophical thoughts this summer? Do you think you live in one of these threefold things more than another? I'd love to hear about how you all are doing. Let me know below!

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