For millennia, the world’s great wisdom traditions have taught about two seemingly contradictory truths: life is fleeting, so don’t waste time. Make every moment count. They have also taught that life is precious and to be enjoyed, so don’t get too bogged down in the details. Things are rarely as important as they might appear in the long run.
When my clients are overly focused on our impermanence, on how quickly time passes and only having a certain amount of time to accomplish their goals, they can become overly stressed, or stuck in depression or despair. They can get burdened by their attempts to extract the most of every moment and end up missing the beauty of the forest for their focus on each tree, branch, and leaf.
On the other hand, focusing primarily on the pleasures of life can lead to a life of hedonistic pursuits, getting what you can now and leaving any worry or concern about the consequences for tomorrow. For my clients, a life lived narrowly focused on “the moment” brings them to me with the sense that their life has felt too unfulfilling, lacking in purpose, meaning, or mission, and complaints that they feel empty.
We are about to end another calendar year. Ask yourself: on which end of the continuum of life have you been living? Make a course correction that moves you toward the center. Seek to balance awareness of what makes your days meaning-full and a steady diet of what brings you joy. Of course, there is no permanent balance. Life is too dynamic for that. You can, however, find deep reward in how you learn to weave between these two poles.
Here are two short poems that capture the two poles of life.
And, as always, should you find yourself stuck, confused, or struggling to find your path forward again, we are here to support and guide you along the way.
Have a wonderful holiday season. We look forward to next year.