Now and forever
I was wondering about the matter of how we human apprehend ourselves being present, here and now. Please do not give up on me already, I promise I will not go too much philosophical with this one.
Let me just share a story with you first. A year ago I was doing a shitty part-time job for some pocket money so I won’t go crazy from boredom and emptiness. One of my only condolences was working on the Christmas Countdown for ThePassionova. I counted together with you, day by day, post by post, every day I was one step closer to celebrate together with my family and friends. To feel loved. To belong somewhere. To feel appreciated. Useful. Worthy.
Here am I now, writing these lines and I have everything I have ever wished for. Stabile work, nice place to live, surrounded by precious people.
Ups and downs
The reason why I am sharing this perhaps way too personal and uninteresting story is just to raise awareness of ups and downs in life.
No matter if we are down or up at the very moment, we tend to think that this state will last forever. We tend to bury ourselves into the thought that our misfortune will be eternal, we are cursed and things won’t change. That we are a failure and there is no way out from this misery.
Also, when we experience success and happiness, we feel satisfied and maybe even proud, we feel that this is a rightful reward in exchange of our efforts, we deserve this, but not thinking of this can be just temporary and we eventually might lose everything that makes us feel be ourselves. That it might be just a fortune or privilege. Have you ever felt this way?
About the limbic system
If your answer is yes, well do not worry, this is actually a very natural mindset of a human brain. The default setting, the so-called ‘toddlers brain’, which can not abstract from the here and now. It is like being stuck in presence eternally.
The limbic system or paleomammalian cortex is a set of brain structures, located in both sides of the thalamus. The limbic system is responsible for among other things emotions, behaviour and long-term memories. Control over emotions and instincts ‘happen’ in this part of the brain.
This section of the human brain develops fully just around the age of three, this would explain the uncontrollable flow of emotions in small children.
Here and now
It is maybe easier to understand it through the example when a toddler gets emotional and can not calm down. As they are stuck in the constant presence, when they feel anxious, worried, sad, angry, to them it means, that is how they will feel forever, and this makes them even more emotional. They do not understand the concept of ‘it will pass’ because of not having any understanding about the phenomenon of future.
Of course, as we grow and the limbic system develops, our brain learns how to abstract, our time sensation getting more advanced, the way of how we percept the world around us changes a lot. We learn to take past and future into consideration.
But the default setting is to be ‘here and now’. And as liberating feeling is to be present in our joy, just as desperate is to be present in our sorrow.
The same mechanism is visible, as dogs get so sad every time, maybe even stressed or panicked,if their human leaves the house.
Because they live in the very moment and in their world that moment is the only one. Simply put, now=forever. So when the owner leaves, there is no such perspective/expectation as it will eventually return in the future, and that makes them panic.
Obviously with a lot of training and a stable trusty relationship you can avoid separation anxiety in them and live a happy and balanced life with your pets even though you need to leave them alone for hours because of such profane reasons as work.
It will pass
As we train our furry friends to trust us and rely on us that we will return eventually, that we won’t disappear forever, we need to train our own brains also. We know that summer vacation/weekend/ GoT season 8 is going to come, but are we aware of our current state will not last forever?
I would like to dedicate these lines for the ones, who feel down, lost or fearful. Negative emotions affect us more than the positive ones, so it is even more important to be aware, it will pass. It is hard to believe when you are in the middle of a sh*tstorm, but it is true. It will pass. Everything does. Nothing last forever.
For the rest, whose life is full of joy and happiness or even just ok, do not take anything grantes. Stop for a second, take a look around, appreciate what you have and be thankful for it.