Friday, June 13, 2008

It's easy to forget (2)

When I was writing the other night about the importance of appreciating what we already have, I was thinking somewhat about the idea of being present in the moment. But I couldn't quite see how to work that idea in. this is a separate post, so it's not off topic.

When we're present in the moment, it is much easier to appreciate what we have. When we're stuck thinking about something outside the present moment, it is easy to be dragged away from the appreciation. This is especially true if we are busy harboring regrets for what we might have done wrong, or if we are worrying about something yet to happen, over which we may have little control.

With an academic idea, it may be a little more tricky: how do we appreciate the value of our simple statement of motivation, if that motivation is looking to the past or to the future? I would say that the importance in the present moment depends on having a sense that research actually matters. We may not have any immediate plans about how what we study should be transferred into actual policy, but that doesn't mean that we won't think of such a thing later.
On another level, we might note that significance in the moment can depend on past and future events, but understanding the temporal ties to significance does not mean that the significance is outside the moment. Just as hunger might motivate us to seek food, so too do our other desires for the future fit into the moment: their significance may only be realized at a later time, but what we need in the moment is that we feel that our work is significant to us in the moment.

I daresay that the idea of being in the moment is not entirely a novel one, but it's a good one to remember. There's a reason that the idea keeps showing up and keeps getting used.

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