Now is pretty much the only viable option. Sorry.
Chemically hallucinating, on one occasion, I experienced the present moment as a knife. Slicing between the huge swathes of past and future, the knife always sheared forwards. It was the narrowest edge of everything. The tiniest moment, and we ran along it. Everything else was vast colour, huge immutable and incomprehensible wonder, but now, was the edge of a knife, sharpened into nothingness. That’s where we were.
It was mostly an elaborate visual pun on the phrase bladerunner. I was the one running along the edge. This was my moment, this was where I was.
And it always is.
That knife edge between past and future; the present moment. It is all we have.
Gazing at the sunset blemished sky, colours and air collaborated above me. Moisture coalesced, ready to capture the splashes of light and bounce them down to me as gorgeousness. A thought burned bright in my mind, as I pondered the question.
This moment will never happen again. Here, now, there will never be another moment like it. Everything else has already gone, or will simply not be here in time.
The future arrives, but it is not like it was.
Each instant is a rebirth, an opportunity to be embodied. You are that blade, and the future is yours to shape. Now is the only possible opportunity for change. If you wait, you’ve already missed the nowness.
Of course this is facile absurdity. There is always future, now will pass, but will turn into another moment, forever. We are not (most likely) going to get our agency removed from us so suddenly that we can no longer make a difference.
The odds are in favour of there being opportunities to do things in the future. The future is bigger than this instant. There are moments yet to come, an infinity of them.
But you can’t bank on them. You can’t make promises to them. You can’t rely on them being the right shape.You can’t expect the motivation of now to not have a use by date. You can’t expect the foundations to still be solid. You can’t know that you will not crack.
I not now; much more often than I like. Procrastination is irresistible. To put off the change, you can blame an infinity of distractions and difficulties. The mind resists immediacy. Fear grows in anticipation of the future. It is possible to become so firmly lodged in the routines of the past that you are no longer in the present enough to use it.
But past is done, and the future is not ready yet. The present is the one opportunity to leap across the gap. Choose to let one go and grasp the other for yourself.
Every moment is a moment ready to build an infinity of futures on.
Don’t worry about the maths of all those infinities. Just realise that you have something to build.
Lay the first piece.
Illustration by David