Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Living in the Present

In my last entry (which, by the way, I was a little apprehensive about posting, as my original intention when starting this blog was to avoid posting anything very personal, but judging by the feedback I've received, I guess it was a good decision to post it), I mentioned living in the present. I have heard about this idea many times in the past from all kinds of sources. Recently I've read a few books that talk about it in greater detail than I've seen before, and it has made me a little more aware of the concept. Now I'm starting to see all kinds of examples pop up in my life.

I just re-watched "Harold and Maude" a few nights ago, and it seemed like a great example. The old woman in the film lives constantly in the now, and only slips into memories of the past once or twice. She is happy and full of life, whereas the young man who is obsessed with death is unhappy and unable to connect with other people (until he meets the old woman, of course).

That's just one example, but there have been a lot more small things that have made me think about living in the "now." Maybe it is just because I'm thinking of it more, and so I'm interpreting things in a new way based on that.

Which brings me to the point (sorry it took so long!): I'm currently working on my MBA at National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan. Yes. I admit it. I am studying business. To find out why, go to my post from November 1, 2006 entitled "M.B.A.? Why?" Some of the reasons don't exist anymore, and most of the reasons were never real in the first place. Still, I don't regret going over to the dark side, at least academically. It has been interesting and I've learned a lot. One thing that has occurred to me recently, however, is that living in the present is not exactly compatible with the general way of thinking in the business world.

This occurred to me when I was sitting in the park near my home, soaking up the sunshine and studying Technology Forecasting (one of my classes this semester). The sun felt good after a long, cold winter. There were birds chirping, and people walking their dogs. It was really a lovely afternoon, a perfect time to just be. But there I sat, reading about how to make predictions of the future based on events of the past.

This is when it really struck me that much of education, research, business, and on and on is based only in the past and future, but never in the now. As children, we learn about the ideas that were developed in the past in order to prepare for our futures. When we go into higher education, it is just more of the same. We do research, gather data (about the past), and then analyze it to try to foresee the future. In business it is the same. And in business there is always the quest for competitive advantage, which is basically a manifestation of fear--something that is the antithesis of living in the present.

Sunday is my birthday. I'll be forty-two years old. Most of my life has been spent in fear, which is not to say I've been miserable, but like almost everyone else in the world, I've been living in the past while worrying about the future. I'm finally opening my eyes to this situation and trying to do something about it so the next forty-two years will be better, but I find myself in an environment that is not conducive to the way of thinking (or not-thinking) that might be able to eliminate that fear.

So... with one semester left to complete my MBA, I am starting to wonder if I shouldn't be sitting on top of a mountain instead. Of course, it could be that there is nothing incompatible between my current path and the road to enlightenment. It may be that I just need to find the balance.

Post a Comment