The curtains rise, lights fade in, and music starts. “Live Fully Now” by Allan Watts hums through the auditorium with three dancers on stage. A million thoughts run through my head as I stand behind the curtain waiting for my cue.

I mentally run through the choreography in my head, always looking ahead, noting each step. There’s my cue. I leap, turn, and pirouette as the dance calls … and, just like that, two minutes later, I have finished the song and my last dance with Extreme Dance Company at UF.

“You can’t live at all unless you can live fully now” echoes in my mind as I stand on the side noting how the last four years have flown by. Have I lived fully? Have any of us?

The idea behind the song is simple and inspiring. We’re always working for the future. From first grade all the way to getting a professional job, we have been working for a future goal. In eighth grade we were working towards getting into high school, in high school for college and college for a profession.

But once we get there, to that place where we had dreamed of when we were younger, we’re disappointed. Disappointed because we were always looking ahead, we never lived fully in the moment.

Living For the Future

Neon sign, work harder, sign, neon and light HD photo by Jordan Whitfield (@whitfieldjordan) on Unsplash

whitfieldjordan on unsplash

I have friends who are always busy working. They go to school, have internships and a job. I ask them what they do for fun and they laugh at me. Fun? They don't have time for fun. They're too busy.

Granted, these people are great at what they do, but they're constantly stressed. When did we as a society let ourselves get to the point where we put all of our interests on the back-burner to “get ahead” in life?

Looking back on my life I don’t want to see endless nights where I sacrifice my happiness for a goal far ahead in the future. I want to live fully. I want to look back and see that I had a life and interests outside of work.

I want to go skydiving, become an avid camper, run a marathon, knit a whole blanket, get married … I want to live. Ideally my memories will be so good that I’ll still be telling stories of them even when I’m old and losing my mind (thanks Alzheimer’s).

Don’t get me wrong. Work is important and vital for you to survive or really do anything. Looking ahead is important and tremendously useful in all our aspects of life. But there’s a difference between having goals for the future and living in the future.

Be Present

Waterfall, rainbow, water and man arms HD photo by Jared Erondu (@erondu) on Unsplash

erondu on unsplash

Every month or every few weeks check in on yourself, like yoga or therapy. Ask yourself this: Am I happy? Am I present? How can I do more of what I love?

Think about your day-to-day life and look at your mood, how your time is spent, and what about your day makes you smile. It doesn’t have to be something huge that makes you happy (like an expensive vacation), but as long as you’re finding something that keeps you smiling you are present. 

Jump for your life photo by Laurencia Soesanto (@lorenciasusanto) on Unsplash

lorenciasusanto on unsplash

With one final wave to the audience, I thought of all the times I had performed on that stage. I danced my way through college starting off as an awkward uncoordinated dancer with little experience and ended it four years later finding a renewed love for dance, new friends, and better balance. The curtains closed and I smiled.

You can’t live at all unless you can live fully now.