Back to the Present

I really, really love this line from Erykah Badu’s “Window Seat”: “I don’t wanna time travel no more; I wanna be here.” Despite having the song in heavy rotation when it was first released, and here and there when I put on my E. Badu playlist, I’ve somehow managed to gloss over that bit every time I’ve sung along. But yesterday, as I was driving and listening, it just hit me.

To me, the line speaks to right where I am in life: Sick of “time travel”. The past few years, I’ve been confronted with a seemingly incessant amount of trials and tribulations. Not always, but often, time travel became my coping mechanism. Mental trips back to a time when things were better, where struggle was a relatively infrequent event. Daydreams of a future where all of my problems would be solved, and I wouldn’t have to worry anymore.

But neither of those things offer solvency; at best, they’re merely a temporary escape. And failing to live right where you are, no matter how much it hurts, only serves to taint the past, present, and future. A past I once looked back on warm-heartedly became the source of a sort of obsessive nostalgia; I wasted many moments on “what if”s, wondering how my life path would be different had I made this choice instead, or not experienced that event. A future I once worked toward with optimism and zeal, I ceased to believe in, convinced that my current troubles would prevent me from ever getting there. As a result of that, I lived bitterly in my present, hating myself, and sometimes, God.

I’m not quite sure when, but it all became incredibly exhausting. And at that point, I realized that I could continue to play Marty McFly for as long as I wanted, but doing so would never make any improvement upon my present. The only way to do that would be to exist fully in the point where I am in life, and embrace the joy, sorrow, pain, and progress that comes with that. Do I still check out sometimes? Of course. Old habits die hard, to speak briefly in clichés. But it’s not as pervasive and consuming as it used to be, because I’m dedicated to living in the moment.

As Ms. Badu would say: I wanna be here.

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