First, I want to proactively acknowledge that this post might be a little bit out there, but guess who doesn’t care? Me! I read something transformative this weekend, and I’m still excited, so I want to write about it. I recently mentioned my introduction to Eckhart Tolle, and I'm about halfway through his book, The Power of Now. As I was reading last weekend, I had one of those epiphanies that made so much sense that I wish I could time travel and experience it 15 years ago. I realize that’s a little ironic given that the book is about now. Anyway, it reads:
You can always cope with the present moment, but you cannot cope with something that is only a mind projection – you cannot cope with the future.
In the moments I’m at my most vulnerable, I have almost always been attempting to cope with something anticipatory – something my mind has imagined that could be anywhere from thirty minutes to thirty years in the future. They may be very plausible possibilities, or they may be realities that I’ve created through an impressively extensive series of what-ifs, like a choose-your-own-adventure story where you land on the wrong outcome time and time again.
You cannot cope with the future. So, yeah, I’m about to be that person that cites the dictionary as though that’s not a completely overused way to get a point across. According to good ol’ Merriam-Webster, “cope” is defined as:
to deal with and attempt to overcome problems and difficulties
to maintain a contest or combat usually on even terms or with success
How can you possibly conquer or navigate an issue that hasn’t even occurred? You can preemptively think of what you might do if certain situations arise, but there’s simply no way to effectively run through a [probably worst-case] scenario and say, “Whew, I’m glad I got that sorted out,” as you mark it off your future to-do list. Instead, I just end up flooded with anxious thoughts, and the only thing I have to show for it is the loss of time and sanity.
Today, on Ramón’s half-birthday and six-month cancerversary, I reflect on some moments of perceived crisis I’ve had throughout this escapade. None of them were caused by what was presently happening. Instead, they were rooted in very Eeyore-esque hypotheticals that I simply couldn’t cope with or process successfully. And why couldn’t I handle it, class? *in unison* You cannot cope with the future.
We can manage what’s happening now because we’re immersed in it. But, by trying to cope with the future, we sacrifice the irreplaceable present moment. If you could see me right now, I’d probably exclaim “BOOM,” followed by a few air punches and a high-kick. There's some mumbo for your jumbo.