I’m starting to understand the importance of the present moment. I’ve read many articles and books on the present moment, but I feel like I now have a grip on tangible experiential evidence of why this thing called the present moment, that everyone talks about, is so important. I’m not going to explain why though; too many times I’ve tried to rationalize and be conscious of all these things. Ultimately, I don’t really care why it’s important. I’m focusing on it because it makes me happy.
I love music. If I had to list my top 3 favorite things to do on this planet, listening to music would be easily in there. I happened to come upon the realization that I enjoy the song I’m listening more if I don’t play the next part of the song in my head. Conversely, I like songs better when I pay attention to the music I’m listening to and not thinking about the next part of the song, which may very well be my favorite part. I find parts of the music or different instruments that I didn’t remember hearing previously. That’s probably the reason why there’s no better feeling than listening to your favorite song for the very first time. Or doing any favorite activity for the first time. It’s because you’re experiencing everything as it’s thrown to you. After I listen to my favorite song on replay for days straight, it usually gets old. I’m listening to the part of the song that I want to listen to, instead of listening to what’s actually playing. And in fact, if I focus on what’s playing in my ears, by the time I actually do get to my favorite part it becomes so much better.
Has anyone else thought about this, or just me?
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Ben, this is the shit you think about?” Uhhhhh, yes. I know I’m absolutely dissecting and tearing apart this one activity. This is an activity that’s supposed to be fun! But, I’m instinctively an analytical person and it’s where my mind goes. Analyzing this favorite activity has become a source of insights that I couldn’t fully understand from philosophers and books. I had to learn it from experience. Additionally, I tend to learn the most about developing as a person from my favorite activities: listening to music, tennis, writing, eating gummy worms and reading.
Now that I addressed your first concern, let me address your second: “Why is this important?” There were so many parallels between the lessons I’ve learned when listening to music and the lessons I’m trying to apply to my life. The lessons are abundant and I couldn’t ignore them. I couldn’t believe I was enjoying music more in the present than if I lived in the future. I felt this breakthrough when doing something on my own. Many times when I read philosophical literature, I try to force it into my brain. In fact I worry, genuinely, that I have a passion for learning everything to an extent so great that I forget to apply it to my life. With that being said, I took reassurance in the fact that I was doing this all by myself! I applied a principal I’ve loved in an activity that I’ve loved, on my own. It’s a new kind of development for me.
Ok, you don’t need to yell at me jeez. You’re saying, “Ben, you gained all these insights and it’s great. It’s really great and I’m happy for you and shit. BUT, you said you’ve learned life lessons from listening to music; what are those lessons?”
A Letter to Myself: based on insights gained from listening to music
Don’t think about the future right now. It’s not important. Deal with what’s in front of you. Paying attention to the little things around right now will give you joy and you won’t be able to notice them if you’re thinking about what will be around you later, even if it’s 30 seconds away. Activities that once brought you joy can give you excitement again if you try to see it like you did the first time: with a beginner’s mind.
You want to get to the next part in your life. The good part. The fun part. The part of your life when you can have happiness and assurance. But trust me, enjoy what’s in front of you and not what your mind wants to think about: Will I find love? Will I be happy? Will my health be okay? Will I be poor? If I don’t succeed, am I a failure? Will I die alone? Have I made mistakes that I’ll dwell on later in life? Will I feel like I lived a fulfilling life? Will people think I’ve could have done more in my life?
Oh and stop worrying about that tennis thing. It’ll all work out.
One day you’ll look back and miss this part of your life.
Ben, don’t fast forward your life and predict what might happen in the future. Focus on what’s in front of you; it will make the happy times, when they come to you, all that better. Focus on what’s in front of you and you’ll find something hidden around you that will give happiness that you never expected.
If events around you affect you and make you feel a certain way, appreciate them. Appreciate the fact that things in your life actually have the ability to change your feelings, like at all. If you begin to feel positive, be grateful for the happiness. If it’s a type of sad feeling, appreciate the fact that things in your life can actually affect you this much; it has touched you deep down.
That is all.