Monday, 03 September 2012
I had a friend a few years ago who used to tell me that he only wanted to live in the moment. I asked him what he meant by that.
“Well”, he said, “ya know, I just want to be spontaneous, just do what comes naturally to me,"
I still did not understand what he meant, so he explained it this way:“You over think things Mark [which by the way is something I agree with], I just want to live in the moment and enjoy my life, I don’t want to be bothered with worrying about the meaning of life, I just want to live, and do what I want, when I want to do it, as long as I don’t hurt anyone”.
To his credit he did live the way he said he did, at least he thought he did. He was well liked and seemed to get along well with others, but when things got rough or difficult, he would bail. It was keeping him from living in the moment and being spontaneous, he would tell me.
Over the years he got married and divorced four times. Each time when he came to me and brought his fiancée, he would tell me that this is the real thing. So they got married and the honeymoon lasted sometimes for a few years -- because he was a lot of fun to be around -- then problems came up and divorce would soon follow. He could not work through relationships it seemed.It was always “that bitch’s fault," if only she stayed the same. She started to become very angry with him when he started to stay out late with his friends, not bothering to come home some nights, just like his other marriages. I am not sure he understood how his actions were hurting his currents wife’s emotions and slowly changing her feelings towards him. When the divorce came, he was relieved but usually got remarried within a few years -- until his fourth marriage ended.
He started to drink too much, and became abusive to women when he drank, a further development, for he was never abusive before -- and being at the time in his mid-sixties he lost a good deal of his charm and looks that would get him through some rough spots, at least for awhile. Because of that, he was never able to remarry. To say I was worried about him is an understatement, though I understood I could not change him.
We would talk. When I tried to gently bring it to his attention that maybe it is not always the other persons fault when his marriages ended, he would not listen to me. So one day I got angry and said, “What the hell do you want from others, my friend?" He responded, “I just want to have a good time that is all, fun you know, no problems, no worries, no burdens."
I stared at him a tad flustered and stammered back, “What the hell, no problems!” I could not say anything else. For most people, problems while unpleasant are not surprising in the way my good friend thought they were -- as if a corner could be found wherein all was smooth sailing. Perhaps if a perfect robot could be created and only responded to one’s needs, then a perfect relationship would happen. The other, the robot, would be a toy that is all. He could not understand my confusion on the matter, and left very angry that I would not agree with him that he was the victim.
About a week later he died in a car accident. It was his fault. He was drunk, and luckily no one else was hurt.
I mentioned him as a friend, but only in the broadest sense of the term. I would listen when he would come to me when in trouble, but I knew that we were not friends in the way it is commonly meant. I just never caused him any real trouble or problems. I was there for him to talk to. When I tried to bring in some other perspective, he would go blank and when I finished, he would simply continue his rant.
I was sad about his death, but there was no sense of personal loss because there was no real give or take in our talks or relationship. His living in the moment, and not hurting anyone (or so he believed) really got him back into a very lonely place -- a place he was unable to get himself out of. I often wonder if he really killed himself when he went off the road and hit that tree. It was on a straight lane, no rain and he hit the tree at full speed, no skid marks anywhere. In the course of my life, I can say I have met only a handful like him. Most I avoided, yet for some reason I liked the guy and was very sorry where his life took him.
I believe the reason I liked him, and also the reason he at times drove me crazy, was because he reminded me of one of my inner voices; in other words what I saw in him was in fact living in myself. His outsides showed me part of my insides. I do tend to isolate, which for me is destructive and self centered -- a life long struggle. One that I don’t always win and I pay a heavy price when I can’t break out of it. Though as I get older, isolation is giving way to more solitude, which is quantitatively different. He was free in a certain way in how he could treat people, a freedom he seemed unwilling to give up or perhaps he could not, not sure.
I do believe it is conscious choices that we find the kind for freedom that leads to a larger reality and not one that will back us into corners. He died in 1995 aged 68.
Looking back at your life so far, have there been times when you've "lived for the moment"? Did those times turn out beneficial or detrimental? If you choose not to live for the moment, what do you live for, and how does that impact the quality of your life and relationships? Is there a way to still live in the moment that isn't so negative?