Not Focused only on the Present

“But karma and rebirth focus on past and future. Doesn’t the dharma teach us to focus totally on simply being mindful—fully present—in the present moment?

“The Buddha talks about the importance of focusing on the present moment only in the context of karma: You focus on the present because you know that there’s work to be done in training the mind inn developing skillful present intentions, and you don’t know how much more time you have to accomplish that training. If you don’t train it now, you’ll suffer both now and on into the future.” The Buddha’s Baggage, Tricycle, Winter 2016 issue, page 83


I have been looking for months for a quote that explains my concept of present-moment-living and karma.

I have nothing against focusing on the moment. Good choices can only be made now. If you don’t deal with now very well, later ain’t looking too good, either.

My issue has always been with the “live for today” crowd. As if tomorrow will never occur.

I think of those people, back in the late 80s and early 90s, who got HIV+ diagnoses. All of their friends had died quickly from AIDS. So they went out and spent every penny they had, took all the vacations they had ever longed for, ate all the food they wanted, etc., thinking their deaths were imminent. And modern medicine started to have resources that enabled HIV+ people to live long. And they didn’t die. Oops. Then they were broke, having blown all their resources. Try finding housing being HIV+ and broke. Tomorrow did come.

I am trying to make decent choices today. Trying to rest up for the next phase of my life. After the holidays, I am going to get more aggressive regarding respite care. I need to work. I have an MBA and am doing nothing with it.

I also need to take care of my health. I am all about quality, not quantity, of life. If someone wanted to shoot me today, I would welcome that. It would put an end to the care-taking phase (and all other phases for that matter) of my life. My problem is not “What if I die?” No….My problem is “What if I live?” I don’t want someone else changing my diapers. I want to be as functional as possible for as long as possible, if I must live. So I exercise, try to keep my brain working, eat healthy, etc.

I believe in delayed gratification, as long as it doesn’t turn into no gratification. Delayed gratification is called “discipline.” Everyone needs some. Zero gratification makes life not really worth living. I believe girls are raised believing in delayed gratification, only to find out too late that often there will be no gratification whatsoever. I feel duped. Now I am pushing fifty and still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I have some anger here. I followed all the rules and did everything I thought I should and found out that there is no reward at all for doing so.

My philosophy is simple: Do whatever you want and try to learn from every mistake you make. Have fun in your twenties, thirties, and beyond. But don’t make the same mistakes when you are thirty as you made when you were twenty, at forty that you made when you were thirty, etc. There is a reasonable expectation that you should learn as you get older. People (rightfully) don’t have a lot of patience with fifty-year-old idiots doing the same crap twenty-year-olds do.

Living for today is good in some ways. But actions do have consequences. Sometimes tomorrow does come.





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About cdhoagpurple

I live in Michigan. I was Greek Orthodox (and previously Protestant), but now am more Buddhist than anything. I am single now (through the till-death-do-you-part clause of the marriage contract). My husband Barry was a good man and celebrated 30 years in AA. I am overly educated, with an MBA. My life felt terminally in-limbo while caring for a sick husband, but I am free now. I see all things as being in transition. Impermanence is the ultimate fact of life. Nothing remains the same, good or bad.

One response to “Not Focused only on the Present”

  1. Ninasusan says :

    Good post…reality….when I’m in a funk, I use the question, am I better today than yesterday…if not, something minimal needs to change….if so, I know I’m going in the right direction!

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