Right before I graduated from college, I got offered a job that paid quite a lot.
So of course I took it. Right away I paid off all my student loans and saved up a bundle of cash.
But even though I was raking in the green (in fact, I had more money at that time than I have ever had before or since!) I couldn’t buy a cup of coffee without feeling guilty for spending what I felt sure I should be saving for later.
In short, I didn’t feel I deserved the coffee now if it came at the expense of the later needs of my future self.
Unfortunately, I was also still really sick with my eating disorder in those first post-college years, so lots of other things besides my relationship with my own cash were still upside-down. Even worse, the job itself also made me sick – there were more than a few days when offing myself literally seemed preferable to another day spent all trussed up in hose and heels and, well, hell.
During those three extra-long years, pricey cups of coffee temporarily eased my angst. Thoughts of all the rest of my cash that my future self would have to spend during her retirement did not.
This was because I could barely myself imaging surviving the day I was in, let alone a day 30 or 50 years forward when I would finally have “enough” and wouldn’t have to work anymore.
So I bought my little cups of coffee and worried, and saved the rest for my retirement and worried.
In other words, I was living fully for “later” and not at all for “now.”
Today, my life is exactly the opposite.
(True confession: Sometimes I get so enthused about living for “today” I can forget all about tomorrow’s rent payment. So still something to work on there….)
But that job and the many years since have taught me that “now” is it.
Now is what I have today. There really is no “later.” I mean, there could be a later, but I don’t have it in writing.
If there is a later, I’d like for it to be a good one. And the only way I can be sure it will be is if I treat myself well today, invest in myself today, show myself a good time today, engage in my life from a place of total authenticity today.
The way I used to live – hoarding everything in fear of not having enough for the future – left me in poverty in the present instead.
I am now working on finding a healthy balance between the two so I can enjoy “now” today and still plan well for “later’s” possible needs tomorrow.
But here, I am finding it takes a great deal of equipoise, wisdom, discipline, and active intuition to locate that fine line between today and tomorrow and balance myself precisely and continuously on top of it.
It is a work-in-progress.
In the meantime, I continue in all ways to err on the side of “now,” finding that living immersed in today’s blessings offers infinitely greater potential for receiving more of the same tomorrow than any other method I’ve found so far.
Today’s Takeaway: Of course, not everyone will resonate with my approach to post-recovered living, and that is probably a good thing. And if you are one of those rare, wonderful beings who has found a way to balance well between living for “now” and “later” I would especially love to hear how you do it! 🙂
p.s. This post comes from the November edition of Shannon’s free e-zine, Good News for Recovery + Life.