It’s hard for me not to return again and again to the thought of what my next “step” is; to what program(s) do I want to apply?…who do I want to work with?…and it goes on. It’s easy to get caught up in such repetitive thinking, and though of course it’s important to continue to do research into what I might enjoy embarking on next, it’s also important to let those feelings simply sit and marinate so that I might enjoy where I’m at. As with many things, it’s easier said than done, but Pema Chödrön’s words resonate with me and have helped me to appreciate aspects of my life that I enjoy right now instead of thinking so much about what the future might hold.
Excerpt from Comfortable with Uncertainty:
‘Fruition’ implies that at some future time you will feel good. One of the most powerful Buddhist teachings is that as long as you are wishing for things to change, they never will. As long as you’re wanting yourself to get better, you won’t. As long as you are oriented toward the future, you can never just relax into what you already have or already are.
One of the deepest habitual patterns that we have is the feeling that the present moment is not good enough. We frequently think back to the past, which maybe was better than now, or perhaps worse. We also think ahead quite a bit to the future, always holding out hope that it will be a little bit better than now. Even if things are going really well now we usually don’t give ourselves credit for who we are in the present.
Instead of looking for fruition, we could just try to stay with our open heart and open mind. This is very much oriented to the present. By entering into this kind of unconditional relationship with ourselves, we can begin to connect with the awake quality that we already have.
Of course I wish I felt as peaceful as this quote sounds about accepting my unknown future. I don’t expect to suddenly be able to embrace the unknown, but I think that these words were a good reminder that I can give myself a break from worrying about the future as much as I do. If I can learn to gently remind myself of Chödrön’s teaching, maybe I will be able to practice some acceptance of what I do not know and what is to come.