Living in the present

Living in the present

Young children can be very good at living the spirit of today’s Gospel:

Do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

If a young child’s parents are close by, they have nothing to worry about. When something troubles them, they turn to Mum or Dad for resolution. Then they quickly forget what troubles them, and return to their games.

As they get older, of course, that changes. Older children often look forward to the future: “When I’m a grown up . . . ” Adults are the same. We imagine our future life; we plan our studies and career moves; and we can easily live in the future at the expense of the present.

Adults also go to the other extreme: living in the past. Fondly recalling happy memories. Or stewing over old grudges. But again, young children can teach us a better way. When kids have cause for offence — and they do have a refined sense of justice, so they are offended, for example, when their slice of cake is smaller than their neighbour’s — they will object loudly. But children are also quick to forgive. They don’t hold on to bitter feelings. They don’t do resentment. Kids have short memories and live in the present.

Nearly all the vices are rooted in the future: fear; avarice; lust; ambition. But gratitude looks to the past and love to the present. Maybe this is why young children so excel at gratitude and love.

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