WHAT I KNOW NOW: The present passes


BP Graphic by Ezra Helfand, BP Photo by Sam Elyaszadeh

Senior Anya Mendelson ponders the college admissions process.

By Anya Mendelson, Staff Columnist

You’re at the beach. It’s a warm evening in Los Angeles, and the sun is just beginning to set. Pinks and purples flood the sky as your eyes trace every colored cloud on the horizon. You tilt your head up and see birds, flying freely through yellows and oranges, and you momentarily wish you could be like them – elegantly carefree. 

The colors begin meshing together, as your mind starts to wander. What will I have for dinner tonight? Do I have any homework due tomorrow? I’ve been a little bored, is it time to pick up a new hobby? You fall out of the multi-colored moment and enter into the realm of the future. The present begins passing by, and before you know it, the sun has set. You now stand in the gray light, wondering where the beauty went. 

You’re sitting in the middle row, not too far from the center, not too close. Shabbat is coming to an end, as you wrap your arms around your classmates’ shoulders. You scream the words to songs you have been singing your entire life, basking in the collaborative sound that each diverse voice contributes to. You momentarily open your eyes, watching as your Shalhevet community soaks up the holiness of this moment. You catch a glimpse of your friend’s face and see a distorted look of concentration. From across the circle, you can even hear his voice, slightly off-pitch, and you can’t help but think: Do I sound like that? Does my face move in that odd fashion? Am I being loud enough? Should I be louder? And the song has lost its meaning.

Why isn’t it in all our human natures to focus on the task at hand, rather than worrying and trying to predict how a task may affect our futures?

You review your final college application one last time. You make sure each supplement is correctly edited, each question answered to the best of your ability. You have worked tirelessly to create the perfect version of yourself for every college to see. Your hand hovers over “submit,” waiting for some force to will your finger down onto the button that will force you to relinquish your control. Finally, you conquer your fear and click it, sending your application into the hands of the people who have been deemed “qualified.” The screen goes green as confetti pops up from the corners, a catalyst for a smile growing on your lips. The confetti falls, and a flood of wonder enters your mind. Did I do my best? Will my work ensure acceptance? Am I good enough? The smile falters, and all the determination that consumed you during the application process, all the pride the green screen and confetti made you feel, becomes a pit of worry. 

“Just live in the moment.” It’s a common answer to any problem that may arise regarding the future, yet it doesn’t offer much instruction. Sure, it may pull you back to the present for a temporary time, but really it is just something you try, and never fully achieve. But it sounds so great, so why can’t we just do it? Why isn’t it in all our human natures to focus on the task at hand, rather than worrying and trying to predict how a task may affect our futures?

Well, I heard something somewhere, although I can’t remember the details, only the words:  “The future never passes, but the present does.” You can spend time worrying about what may be for dinner, whether your voice is too loud, or if you really tried your hardest, but you can also focus on the colors in the sky, to the mesh of music, to one of your greatest accomplishments. 

Four words of advice are not enough and neither are eight. But combine the two together, and you get a perfect union, something that now feels possible to put into action. 

Live in the moment, because the future never passes, but the present does.