The present moment is infinitely more subtle than any imagined destiny or remembered past. The present has something new in it – something unlived. The present has colors and sounds that are real and can fill the heart of a person better than a rich meal can fill the stomach. The present offers a sense of being that is just being known in this moment, and so it can describe a self that is only being known at this moment. The cast of players who people this moment offer a taste of humanness that is indescribable, because it has not yet been lived.
The last thing Despair wants anyone to do is enjoy the present moment. In fact, the present moment ceases to exist when despair is around, because despair takes up every present moment with prattling about the future and the past. Despair’s merchandise is all the “if only” and “it ought to be” thoughts about life that arise largely from fantasy, Hollywood, or someone elseʼs life.
Many times, Despair wants our focus on everything that can be cast in a discouraging light. Even that which is promising can become degraded into a story of dread and failure. Despair sometimes tries to dominate our definition of our self and have this definition to be about gloom and failure. Despair can also attempt to destroy or ignore our own definition of our self and life. Here is an example where it did not succeed:
Dalia was dating Ben. Dalia was very excited about the possibilities with Ben but felt he might reject her, because she considered herself heavy. Even as they were dating, she would hear a voice that said, “Your skirt is too tight. He will never marry you.” Dalia stood up to this voice and began to share its dread-filled messages with a friend to ostracize these messages and laugh at them. She maintained that anyone who could see her would love her. Ben and Dalia are married happily today, and Dalia never lost a pound. Many people would have advised Dalia to get serious and lose weight quickly before she lost Ben, but Dalia believed that love was not about weight, rather it was about seeing and being seen.
By attaching herself to her own definition of love, she was able to buy back the present and truly enjoy the time she had with Ben without knowing if they would end up married. Despair had failed to entice Dalia into accepting weight as the definition of a person deserving to be married. Self-acceptance and having her own definition saved Dalia from Despairʼs cruel attempts to separate her from the enjoyment of dating Ben.
By exploring our own knowledge and experience, we can find relationships and achievements of personal value that Despair can prevent from being seen. By staying in touch with these experiences, we can realize the tricks that Despair plays. By creating a Hollywood set of doom and degradation, Despair convinces us that this blackened version of reality is truth.
By letting the present moment influence me, I can find a space of safety and self-value. Although despair is a big opponent, I am determined to know that my life has value as much as everyone’s life has value. Then I begin gently to fill my life with meaning and fun. Meaning and fun are the enemies of despair.
The present moment used with intention is a powerful tool against despair.