Gay Patriot Header Image

Living in the present in challenging times

Several of my Facebook friends like to post inspirational and thought-provoking quotes on a regular basis.  Two or three of them have recently posted a quote which has been attributed to Lao Tzu which reads:

If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.

As someone who has lately been bouncing back and forth between these states of mind, I can appreciate the essential wisdom of the quote.  Most of my feelings of depression lately have been spurred on by my regrets about things I wish I had done differently in my life, and so in that regard, they are an instance of dwelling in the past.  Most of my anxiety stems from my concerns about where our country is headed under its current leadership (or lack thereof), and my feelings of uncertainty or even paralysis as to what is or should be the best path for me to take from this point forward.  The more I think about it, the more overwhelming the many different options start to become.

Partly because of the circumstances which have fueled both my recent feelings of depression and of anxiety, I also have to wonder whether or not the “living in the present” endorsed by the quote is really so desirable after all.  When things are going well, yes, that sounds ideal, but isn’t there the risk of a sort of complacency which can result in self-indulgence, lack of ambition and disengagement?
I thought of these points and more yesterday when Glenn Reynolds linked to a post by Sarah Hoyt entitled “If You Don’t Work, You Die.”  In the post, Hoyt reflects on the importance of what she refers to as envy and striving for growth and life, which, to my mind suggests a certain resistance to complacency.  She reflects on an experiment in Denver in the 1970s with a guaranteed minimum income and the finding that a certain segment of the population was content to live on it and to stop striving to better their lives, and she speculates that it is partly an inherited trait which had value in the conservation of social energy.  The part of the post that fascinated me the most was when she described herself in the following terms:
Some of us are broken.  We were given both envy and high principles.  We can’t even contemplate bringing others down to level things, but instead we work madly to increase our status.  (No, it’s not how I think about it, but it’s probably what’s going on in the back of the monkey brain.)  Most of humanity however is functional.  Give them enough to eat, and a place to live, and no matter how unvaried the diet and how small/terrible the place, most people will stay put.
It seems to me that she has hit on something crucial there because although I’m often tempted to focus on being content with things the way are, every so often something happens to jar me from that state of mind, either by making me feel depressed or anxious or by throwing me off balance completely with some new dream or hope.
I’d like to write more about the disruptive power and potential value of such dreams, but for the time being, I’d like to pose a question for our readers.   When we live in difficult and challenging times, how can one try to remain “in the present” without falling into complacency or without becoming disengaged from the sorts of issues and problems that threaten to make existence even more trying and difficult?

Giving Thanks from Palin & Rubio

Posted by Bruce Carroll at 11:44 am - November 25, 2010.
Filed under: Giving Thanks,Marco Rubio,Sarah Palin

Via National Review:

SARAH PALIN
I am giving thanks for so much this Thanksgiving. I’m grateful that we enjoy the “blessings of liberty” secured by our Constitution. I’m grateful for the protection of America’s finest, our men and women in uniform — many of whom will spend Thanksgiving far from their loved ones so that we might celebrate with our families in peace and security.

I’m grateful that America’s children can look forward to a hopeful future because their mothers and fathers will make the sacrifices generations of American parents have made to safeguard freedom and opportunity.

I’m grateful that our land is rich in resources — all that we need to sustain ourselves and secure our prosperity.

I’m grateful that all Americans have the equal opportunity to earn, contribute, create, produce, perform, and succeed by our own merits and through the application of a sincere work ethic. I’m grateful for the ingenuity, innovation, and optimism that still animate the American spirit.

Most of all, I’m grateful that the steadying hand of Providence that guided the Pilgrims to Plymouth Rock continues to guide us toward a better future.

Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska and Republican vice-presidential nominee, is author of the new book, America by Heart.

MARCO RUBIO
Every Thanksgiving, Americans give thanks to God for all the blessings we have. And there are no people in the world who should be more grateful than the American people.

What we’ve had for over 200 years is unparalleled in human history — a free and prosperous society where generation after generation has been able to leave the next better off.

We’re thankful for the blessings of our country, and we’re also cognizant of the responsibilities that come with those blessings. On this Thanksgiving holiday, let’s take a moment to remember how special a country we share, how exceptional it is in human history, and how important it is that we secure its blessings for the next generation of Americans.

My wife Jeanette and I are also thankful for the friendship and support we’ve been blessed with. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to travel throughout Florida for the better part of the past two years, meeting many extraordinary people and hearing many inspirational stories about the talent, drive, and hard work that make our state and country special.

From my family to yours, we wish you a happy Thanksgiving.

Marco Rubio is a U.S. senatorelect from Florida.

Two great Americans celebrating the great American holiday.

-Bruce (GayPatriot)