The other day a friend startled me when she said, “I admire your ability to live in the present.“ The reason the remark surprised me is that living in the present isn’t an ability. It is a choice. Anyone who wants to can live in the present instead of worrying about or wishing for the future or fretting about or desiring to return to the past.
I’ve pondered on her statement a lot since then. So many of us go through life assuming that the way we are is the way we are always going to be. How often have you heard someone say something like, “I’m a person who needs to know. . . “ or “I can’t function without. . . “ or “I have to have everything. . .” You can finish each of these phrases with hundreds of things, but the point is when we think in these kinds of terms we are denying the fact that we have agency and can change. It isn’t that people NEED to know; it is that they like to know and have chosen to like to know. It isn’t that people can’t function without; it is they have chosen not to be able to function without.
The reason some of us cling to these ideas is that we don’t want to change. Change takes effort and it is a lot easier to just say this is the way I am, and make everyone around us deal with it. But in many cases, change would make our lives so much more enjoyable. It would strengthen our relationships. It would bring us closer to the Spirit. It would make life easier. Yet we stubbornly cling to the idea that what we are can’t be changed.
Agency is a great gift, but it does us no good if we don’t use it.