Winter air pours through the expansive openings of the tropically decorated bar. It is April in Southern California, but remnants of winter still claw to the shattered promise of a wet season. It was mild in Orange County this year, mild when it came to the weather, if not mild in the passions that have been on display. The bar at Habanas was designed for warmer environments though, and the Caribbean motif becomes ridiculous when gusts of 50 degree frigidity pours in from the outside.
I hate the summer, but I am equally appalled by arctic blasts. I am most at home in my natural habitat between 60 to 75 degrees.
Habanas was designed to evoke memories of warmer times. When nature’s icebox is left open, the faux Cuban design is exposed as a fraud.
This still does not stop me from eating my empanadas.
God, I love empanadas.
I look around the bar and see specimens exhibiting different stages of loneliness. Some pine for a lost love, others wait endlessly for their new hero to arrive. They found them on some app, and after some steamy texts, they have decided to see if the flesh matches the fantasy. They drink while waiting, knowing deep down that it never really does.
There is also something more palpable… a tiredness. People are tired… tired of the butchery they see on the news that makes so very little sense, tired of the lies, tired of the struggle to just maintain, tired of just being tired.
So they wait. They wait for the future while mired in the past.
Therein lies the rub.
Sandy has had problems sleeping for a while.
This is not surprising. She carries an unbelievably heavy burden. During her day, she has to constantly tack between the mundane of spreadsheets to the monstrosity of creativity. Each decision she makes for our company has within it the potential of an existential crisis. Still, she soldiers on each day moving us forward. The effects on her… especially her sleep… are real though.
Recently she discovered a “bedtime story app” that seems to work. Celebrities tell 30 or 40-minute stories in breathless voices that eventually trail off to mere whispers as the listener supposedly falls off to sleep. These work miracles for her. She is usually deeply asleep within the first 30 seconds.
They keep me awake for the whole f@#ing story.
One of the stories that she feels compelled to play repetitively every goddamn night is one that is read by Mathew McConaughey.
She claims it has nothing to do with the actor himself, she just likes his “soothing Texas accent”.
I suspect there is more to it than that, but I’ll give her a hall pass on this one.
Still, I have to listen to his story night after night. Honestly, I think I have most of it memorized at this point. There is something in the story, though, that does resonate with me.
In the story, a grandfather is talking to his little granddaughter. She confesses to him that at times she is scared of what the future holds.
The buttery voice of McConaughey channeling the grandfather says:
“There is nothing that exists in the future that can hurt you because it is in the future. The future has not happened yet and, therefore, has no power over us. Even the past can’t affect us anymore. The only thing that matters is the present.”
Of course, we know this is true, yet we do tend to forget it, don’t we? We have been instructed to consider past transgressions by others to be of paramount importance in how we define ourselves. Future pain is inevitable, is it not? Should we not be girding ourselves against the foreseeable onslaught of bad luck and the devious nature of others?
We must reject this thinking. We must focus on the present. This is, in the end, really the only thing that matters.
In weapons training this is paramount, yet we rarely talk about it.
We don’t ignore the future. Our weapons manipulations are designed to minimize the chances of potential failure, and to increase our efficiency.
But we see it at the range, don’t we?
The shooter who presses the tigger, then lowers his gun so quickly to see the impact, that it is a wonder he does not shoot into the floor. Simultaneously, he seeks to live in the past as well as the future… being buoyed by his last shot and anticipating the results of this one.
Absent is the supreme spiritual harmony of being one with the weapon at the moment the sear breaks.
What is past is prelude. It offers some guidance on how we have arrived where we are. The future does hold promise, but there are so many variables beyond our control, that to live in the future is the height of arrogance.
The present is screaming for our attention, and if we are to find happiness, we must give her her due.