When I got up yesterday morning the forecast was that it was going to rain, maybe even snow a bit just when I’d being taking the dog for a walk. I glanced out one of the windows in our bathroom, which faces east and saw a beautiful sunrise. I glanced down and the street was dry, so I hurried into my clothes and down stairs, thinking we might get a walk in before the weather turned.
During this time I realized that the weather is a pretty good analogy for mindfulness. Looking east I could see the weather that had recently passed. Looking down I could see the current weather. Looking west (if our giant evergreen wasn’t blocking the view) I could see what weather was soon to arrive.
Looking east at the weather that had passed doesn’t really help me. The view was nice, but it didn’t tell me what weather I was going to face on our walk.
If I could look west, I could see the weather heading our way, but sometimes it swings north or south of us, bypassing us completely.
Only looking down at the group (or up at the sky) could I see the weather of right now. It’s the weather of right now that is most important right now. The present weather is what matters when you are present in the present.
That doesn’t mean the past and future don’t matter, however. In the past, our car was damaged by hail during a particularly bad thunder storm. As a result, whenever a similar storm is forecast we try to plan ahead to make sure the car is parked inside a garage if possible. We learn from the past.
It’s also important to pay attention to the potential future. If the forecast calls for frost, we should cover or bring in certain plants (we should, but that doesn’t mean we do). We should prepare for the future.
It’s just a forecast, however. We should prepare, but we should also recognize that sometimes the forecast is wrong. Yesterday morning, when I walked out the front door with our dog I was surprised to see nothing by blue sky all around us. It never did rain or, thankfully, snow.