Living vs. Hoping to Live

A fundamental illusion associated with the way we experience time is this: we are frequently oblivious to the meaning of our life in the present, and look for it in the ever awaited future. Dissatisfied with what we receive in the present, we make a point of entertaining hopes for the future. “For the whole of man’s life is like this,” says St. Basil the Great, “that not being satisfied with the here and now, he feeds not so much off what he has, but off what is to come.” Thus we busy ourselves and make our way in the world as though we were going to live forever. And we usually complete our earthly life while still at the stage of preparing for the future!

source

Pascal, in his Pensées, says this: 

“We never remain in the present – we are so foolish that we allow ourselves to be swept away into a time that is not ours, without giving a thought to the only time that does belong to us. And we are so conceited that we dream of those things which no long exist, while at the same time racing without a thought past the only thing which does exist (i.e., the present). And we do this because the present usually wounds us. We close our eyes to it because it grieves us. And if it is pleasant we are sorry to see it go. We try to shore it up with thoughts of the future, and think of making available things over which we have no control, for a time that we have no certainty that we will actually see.

If each of us were to examine his thoughts, he would see that they ware ruled by the past and the future. We hardly give a thought to the present. And if we do think of it at all, we do so only to gain an insight into how to confront the future. The present is never our goal! The past and the present are means to an end, but our only goal is the future. Consequently, we never live, but always hope to live. And though we concern ourselves constantly with our happiness, it follows that we will never be happy.”

So it is that the future becomes a form of tyranny, while the present is simply the means of achieving future goals and aspirations. All of life’s objectives are placed in the future, while the present is seen merely as a bridge leading to the future. And since what we actually live is not the future, but the present, what actually happens is that we are constantly moving on the bridge, but without ever arriving at our destination!

-From Time and Man, by Fr. George Mantzaridis

h/t Fr. Benedict’s bulletin

3 thoughts on “Living vs. Hoping to Live

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