embrace ageWhen people talk about living the moment, the picture that typically comes to mind is one of spontaneity and irresponsibility and youth. It feels like the kind of thing you have to get out of the way before anyone depends on you. Before you have too important a job, or too comfortable a home, or a baby.

Fun is the kind of thing that young people have.

Everyone else works. And reminisces about the fun they used to have. And just try to get on with being with as little stress as possible.

But people aren’t young for very long. Not the kind of young where you can be really irresponsible and silly and not worry too much about the consequences. And, too often, that’s seen as the way to really enjoy life. To not really care how your behaviour affects the world, act on every whim and never really stop to think about the future, because everything else is work.

But it’s not. Anyone who’s ever enjoyed life knows that. They’re just too caught up in these expectations to fully realise it.

Act young when you’re young. Enjoy the freedom of having someone else pay your rent and bills. Be silly and get drunk and make mistakes. Do whatever you want. It’s your youth, to do with it what you want.

But then grow up when you grow up. Don’t try to stay a child forever. Don’t try to stay a teenager forever. You’ll waste so much time trying to be something you’re not that you’ll miss out on all the great things that come to people just like you.

Relish the independence of getting your own house, your own income, your own responsibilities. Take on the challenge of facing the real world on your own and know that you have earned all the things that come to you.

Continue to do whatever you want. Continue to make the most out of every moment. Hold onto your spontaneity, still embrace every moment you experience.

Apply for all the jobs you could ever want, even if you don’t think you’ll get them. Fall in love. As often as you like. Get married. Have a baby. Buy a house. Eat at every restaurant without bussing distance of that house. Sell that house. Have another baby. Or don’t have any babies and spend your life exploring the areas around all the houses you jump between. Get a different job. Go to shows. Perform in shows. Go around the world. As often as you like.

Try everything there is out there to try. Do all the things that children can’t do.

But don’t lament the fact that you’re not naïve and stupid any more.

Youth is for making mistakes. It’s for learning and growing and becoming the kind of adult that people care about, that people want to have in their lives, that people trust to be there for them when they realise they’re not done mistakes.

If you hold onto that childishness forever, you’ll get left behind when everyone else is ready to see what else is out there.

Living in the moment means embracing every moment that you will ever know. It’s not restricted to any group of people.

Often people don’t realise this until they retire. They’ve accepted that they need to stop having fun because they’re not young any more. That now they’re going to work and that’s it. And that they’ll go back to having friends and hobbies and free time when they’re old. When it’s time for someone else to take over responsibility.

It’s tragic that this has become the typical pattern of a person’s life. It’s worse that people don’t realise that they can avoid falling into it simply by refusing to. By choosing to make time for you own joy. By choosing to appreciate the value of what you’re doing right now. By knowing how important each individual moment is as a piece of your life.

By remembering that this is the only time you ever get to experience now.

Kirstie Summers,

Daily Zen.