Focus on the Present: Be a Buddha, Not a Janus

One morning last week as I wrote in my journal, I grumbled about the Midwestern cold and ice. The snow that had fallen a few days before Christmas had melted just enough to leave a glaze behind on walks and driveways. On Christmas Day I fell on the ice and injured my wrist.

So the morning after Christmas, I bemoaned my bruised and sore arm and wrote “I am already ready for winter to be over.” Not the most artfully crafted sentence, but it expressed my opinion about the season.

The winter solstice had just passed. We have at least two months ahead of us of cold. Threats of snow and more ice are likely to be frequent.

But I just wanted to skip the season. Or get through it as quickly as I could.

I mused to myself about hiding at home until winter is over. I’ve always told myself I would not become a little old lady afraid of driving in the snow. But that day last week, I rethought my position.

And then I caught myself and wrote “Why is so much of life a rush to the future and a mourning of the past? Too little time spent in the moment.”

It didn’t seem right that I was wishing several months of my life to pass in a flash. What life will I experience in the months ahead of me? What will I choose to do with my days?

Once past, the time will not return. So I must make use of each day, cold or not.

800px-Janus1I thought of Janus’s two faces, looking at the past and the future, at endings and beginnings.

Throughout this holiday season I have thought of Christmases past, when my children were small and giddy with the excitement of Santa Claus. Or I have dreamed of Christmases to come, when my grandchildren (I hope they will exist someday) will bounce with their own anticipation, eager for me to spoil them.

Surely I should be focused on the blessings of this season, of the present, not feeling wistful for past delights, nor desirous of future pleasures that may or may not come. I should face my days straight on and experience each moment’s joys and sorrows in its own time.

buddhaThen, as I was writing this post, I came across an entry on another blog, Married to Alzheimer’s, that quoted Buddha:

Don’t dwell in the Past;
Don’t dream of the Future;
Concentrate the mind on the Present Moment.

So others—other bloggers and even the Buddha—have experienced the same thoughts I have, the same desire to look forward or back that Janus displays. And they, like me, have come to the realization that we should focus on the present.

That was my serendipity this week, as we look back on 2013 and anticipate 2014.

May you savor each moment of this new year!

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  1. Lovely post, Theresa. Growing up, my mother used to always tell me, “Don’t wish your life away, time will pass fast enough.” It’s difficult to stay in the moment and not wish for the arrival of spring or the warmth of the summer months, but your words will push me to try a little harder. I hope your wrist is feeling better. Happy New Year!

  2. Being present in what’s happening today is one of my greatest challenges. Even when I notice what’s going on right now, I am thinking either about documenting it to look back upon, or how it will influence what might happen tomorrow. The older I get and the shorter my future is, the worse I am at it. IYour Janus vs Buddha imagery is something I can take to heart. Thank you.

  3. I enjoyed your entry on Be a Buddha, Not a Janus. The Buddha quote on my blog,, is engraved on a bracelet my brother gave me. This quote is a good reminder as I live my life every day.

  4. I look at these days of iky weather when meetings are cancelled as a time to clean out closets or do some extensive writing. A kind of a catchup and take an extra breath days. I actually have gotten a large closet cleaned out last week and filled the back seat of the car of donated items. Then it only took a half hour of sitting in line to give it away! I used that time to read a book on my phone as I eased forward in the line.
    Hope your wrist is better.

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