What Matters Today: Past, Present, and Future

Does it ever cross your mind that the present we are currently living was once a future that we couldn’t yet envision, and will some day be a past that we will reflect upon?

It certainly runs through my mind every now and then. When it does, I can recall being ages 5, 10, or 15 and wondering what my life would look like, who I would be, what I would become when I was 20, 25, 35, and beyond. What were the things I was worried about for my future? What were the things for which I was hopeful? What did I dream about? What did I want to avoid?

While I have been 20 years old, and I am currently living my 25th year, I am sure whatever occupied my brain at 5, 10, or 15 years old all turned out as it should by the time the future I was so worried about arrived. Life has a way of taking care of the things that set up shop in our brains, letting them fall into place or fall away depending on what we need most.

And yet, at 25, I still feel the same way I felt all those years ago, wondering what my life will look like, who I will be, and what I will become at 35, 45, 55, and so on. I have seen the ways in which life has unraveled any knots in my story and straightened the way forward in the past to lead me to my present, but still, I sit in my present preoccupied with what I cannot yet see.

So imagine my surprise upon a morning jaunt through Instagram when my scrolling landed upon a post from poet Siam R. Wilmer — better known by the moniker “srwpoetry” — that presented perfectly the reminder I needed to let life take the lead. The post read, “I wish I could squeeze the hand of my old self and tell her ‘You’ll be fine,’ then pick up the phone to my future self, just to hear her recite the same line.”

The words I needed to read, courtesy of srwpoetry.

I read her words, took a deep breath, and sat with the thought for a moment. I envisioned myself taking the hand of my 5-year-old self, then 10, then 15-year-old self and telling her that she’d be fine, that whatever it was on her mind would work itself out, that she wouldn’t even believe what was coming for her, that she would be proud of what she achieved.

Then I tried to envision dialing my future self, having her pick up the phone, and her telling me the same words. I let the words sit in my head as I tried to believe them in my heart. It’s not always easy to believe, but there is that past, childlike part of me that will always have hope, that will always believe that there will be a little bit of pixie dust in life that will make everything take flight. Maybe I should let that part of me speak a little louder, I thought.

So what matters today is the serendipity of finding the words you never knew you needed to read. What matters today is remembering who you were, honoring where you are, and letting what comes come when it’s ready to make its arrival. What matters today is letting your present play out as it will while not letting a preoccupation with where you might go and who you might become take over.

What matters most today is letting life take the reigns. It’s gotten you this far — what makes you think it won’t bring you to where you’ve dreamed of going…and perhaps further?