Making the present

Let the past die. Kill it if you have to. It is the only way to become what you were meant to be. — Kylo Ren in ‘The Last Jedi’

In July of 2019, there was an app that exploded in popularity across the internet. Appropriately named FaceApp, users could snap a picture, then alter the image using effects that could change their gender, add a smile where there wasn’t one, or modify their style.

But on social networks around the globe, one of the things people were most poised to do was use the aging feature and post the result of how the app predicted they would look like in the future.

I had to try it. I snapped a picture of myself (included here for reference), and then used the app to age me into a senior citizen. The result took me by surprise.

Picture of old man after using FaceApp.

I looked at this picture, and a thought initialized with a question only I could answer: “What does this guy wish he would have done different at my age?”

It’s possible this was the most important image I looked at this year.

Over the past few months I’ve been scribbling on notepads thoughts about my future. Since my mother died, I have been taking stock of my life. Am I were I want to be? What should I have done different? What does the future look like? What steps do I take today to try and reach that future?

Granted, there are things that are always out of our control. I will not worry about such things. Instead, I’m taking issue with the things that have been in my control. If I am honest with myself, and I mean really honest, I have had some fairly regular failures.

Yes, we all have failures. I definitely believe that failure is necessary for growth. But what I’m talking about here is consistent failures: mistakes I keep making over and over again.

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. — Romans 7:15

Whether its health, career, spiritual growth, finances, or family relations, I feel I have a pretty good handle on what I should be doing. I have read many books. I have tried many self experiments. I know what has the greatest impact for me in a variety of areas of my life, and I also know what doesn’t work that well.

However, I am never consistent. I typically go through long periods of being fully on or fully off. I call it my “switch,” and I’m always toggling back between a fully open or closed state.

I am exhausted by the switch. It is something I am always waiting to turn on or off, instead of something I am actively pursing. I am done with this.

It is easy to look back at the past year and see the good and bad. I am finding it much more difficult to look back a decade do the same review. Not to say I can’t remember the past decade, but rather it’s difficult to look back at the past and see it all too well.

All his life has he looked away … to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was … what he was doing. — Yoda in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’

Since I have moved away from where I grew up and lived half my life, I have felt like I have had my feet planted between two worlds. Instead of using one as the foundation for the other, I have been kind of stuck between the two. It wasn’t too many years ago that I was considering moving back. I would find a job, move the family, and then continue on with life. But the door for a move like that closed, and I stayed put. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it is almost like the door closed for a reason. I needed to go ‘all in’ where I am in life now, but I didn’t fully see that then.

I do now.

This is time of year when people typically make out their resolutions or goals for the upcoming year. I am no different, and often post them online, then do a review at the end of the year. There’s great power in attempting the start of something new at a set moment in time that is meaningful to you like the beginning of a new year, month, or a special date. (Related: check out the awesome book “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg.)

I have goals for everything I have mentioned here. I have deep desires to reshape almost every area of my life. But this time, I’m not going to publish these goals. I have them written down, and I will review at a later date. Until then, I will do the work.

If there is one thing I will publish publicly about how I hope my future will become, I will put it simply as this: My goal is to be unrecognizable at this time next year versus who I am at this moment. I am ready to put my past behind me, and move toward a more consistent and stable future.

The only way I will get there is to have my mind on today, and start making my present. Otherwise, the future will end up like it always has, and I’m no longer happy with that.

Here’s to a new year, and to making the present. Have a great 2020!

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