If you hope to be satisfied with life, you’re going to have to learn this sooner or later: you can’t go back and you can’t go forward. You have to live in the moment. You have to live for the moment. And you have to believe in every beat of your heart, because each pulse, each throb of that muscle in your chest is another moment to give yourself over to life.
Picture this: It’s October, the temperature is dropping, and I have a ton of homework. When I look to the future, I see seven more months of school stretched out in front of me like an Arctic tundra of notebook paper and chalk dust. I want to skip the next seven months and dive back into summer. Outside, it is raining. The splatter brings back memories of summer. I love the invigorating feel of summer rain. I love dancing around in it and watching water droplets roll towards my fingertips. Autumn rain, on the other hand, makes me want to run inside and crawl into bed. Looking around my room, I sigh and wish for a time machine so that I can see summer rain sparkling on my skin again.
As I let myself sink into my pillows, I let my mind wander to the possibility of turning back time. I realize that even though I may wish with all my heart to re-experience something or jump forward in time to avoid unpleasant moments—if my wish came true, I would be unhappy. And this is what I have come to believe:
Every once in a while, everything gets so complicated that you wish you had a magical remote to fast-forward or rewind your life. But honestly, if you found that remote, your life would only get more tangled. If you tried to fast-forward, you’d end up looking around and wondering where you are. Once you figured out where you’d gotten to, you’d try to understand how you got there. You’d realize that you missed a million chances to smile, and you’d be so busy looking behind you to find out what you missed, that you’d miss a million more. As for rewinding your life, that would only ever end in heartbreak. If you go back to relive one of the best days of your life, you’ll find that your eyes are clouded with experience, and you won’t be able to see the same sun-drenched sky that you remember. So don’t try to go back; just remember. And be happy for all the times when you lived in the moment, looked around you, and loved what you saw.
Don’t spend your life looking for a remote. You know you’ll never find it, and even if you did, the only thing you’d realize is that you belong right where you are. You would find yourself rewinding and fast-forwarding until you reached the only place where anything makes sense—the perfect spot, and I believe that perfect spot is now.
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