Consumption, circumstance and future-driven thinking

I’ve been thinking a lot, recently. This is no great surprise: it seems to be a normal tendency for humans to think a lot. Annoyingly, in my case, I have been thinking a lot about the future, otherwise known as a fictitious daydream that does not really exist. A few weeks ago, I had reached a point where thoughts directed toward the future were fleeting. Healthily so. To exist in a world where plans seem to be a necessary component of existence, some consideration of the future does make it a little easier to exist within a cohesive community.

But constant day-dreaming, consideration of this future path and that future path; this contingency and that contingency; and the old-one-hundred-tabs-open-at-once-to-ensure-all-options-are-considered rick?? I find it to be irritatingly self-indulgent and ultimately, something that is ripping me away from enjoying the only moment that actually exists: right now. Fortunately for me, I’ve recognised this tendency quite quickly, and I have done some digging within myself to try to tease out why exactly my mind has been stuck in a bit of a loop-the-loop.

I’m currently going through some pretty big changes. I’m two months into an overseas trip. I’ve transitioned from off-grid living, to living in Berlin, a very fast-paced city. I am trying to maintain my inner peace, but I’ve found it extremely difficult. Despite trying to maintain an ethical lifestyle, I’ve found myself living rather indulgently – Berlin is a vegan’s dream (I eat a plant-based diet), and I have truly been living it up. Initially, it was fun. I am not against people enjoying themselves, myself included. But now, I have found myself wanting more-more-more. As I consume a delicious raw cheesecake, I look to the drinks menu, wondering whether I should order a turmeric chai latte with almond milk and cinnamon.

When living off-grid, whilst I lived in an urban environment, my personal lifestyle was much slower. I usually shared my meals, with my housemates or friends. I rarely used my computer at home; I had to think about my energy consumption, I was measured in my actions. Things that I needed to do took more time, but I was more absorbed in the present moment. A few other things worth noting is the fact that I’ve been less intellectually challenged since being overseas. Prior to leaving, I had been writing my thesis – which was taking up a lot of my mental space. This wasn’t necessarily good for me, and actually, I dropped out as I thought it to be fairly detrimental to my mental health.

During the first few weeks of my travels, there was a period of time where I re-focussed that intellectual energy into considering philosophy, and channelling it creatively. It was wonderful. I felt great, and felt really good about the way that in which I was growing. I was focussed on connection, love, positivity, improving the world; all the good stuff. But somehow, I dropped the ball. I started opening my computer first thing in the morning, rather than practicing yoga, movement, or mindfulness. Rather than living with friends, with whom I deeply connected with, I live with housemates who are super lovely – but we do not share much together: no meals, no talks about philosophy, no talks about politics, or social change.

Of course, in Berlin, there is something for everyone; and I know that there are many conscious people to seek out, who share similar philosophies to me. There is plenty of social change, social activism, mindfulness activity, and so on. I am aware of this. I won’t be around for too long, which has made it difficult for me to put myself out there: this too, is unlike me, I generally relish the opportunity to connect and have no issues in doing so without expectation or attachment.

I feel that being in this environment – living on-grid, with access to the internet, a plethora of vegan restaurants around, etc – has allowed me to satiate my desires with such immediacy that I am often left with the question of, what next? I am certain that the environment in which I am living, for sure, has a lot to do with this shift. I am, naturally, connected to my surrounds. It could also be this specific point of time: I’ve dropped out of university, the future is unclear. It could be my lack of connection to my community. It is probably a combination of all of these things. Ultimately, the shift in my psychology, that I have observed take place in a few short weeks, has had the tendency to steal my attention away from enjoying the present moment – and toward seeking out the next moment of pleasure.

When I pause for a moment, now, and recognise what is happening, I realise that I am actually really satisfied with exactly where I am. I need not continually long for certainty; I need not worry about the future; I need not be focussed on what is next. Simply, I’ve not been taking the time to pause. By failing to do so, the past few weeks have flown by with my mind being in another universe. Sure, I’ve pulled it back to the present for short periods, but ultimately, I’ve been living somewhere else.

So what now? I take a few steps backwards. I return to practicing the techniques that I was practicing earlier, to maintain my presence. I might shift something up in terms of my environment; I’m not sure that living in the middle of Berlin is the best for my psyche. But lets see; inner stillness should be accessible anywhere, so I will give it a shot.

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