It was Lao Tzu - the father of Taoism - who opined, “If you are depressed you are living in the past; If you are anxious you are living in the future; If you are at peace you are living in the present.” Heady stuff for us multi-threaded real-time scenario runners. For the oblique, scenario runners rarely run scenarios of what could have been, only what may be. Which is why its paramount we not live there, despite seemingly being there ceaselessly.
Understanding a thing, however, and its practical application I've found, can have increasingly diverse difficulty levels. So let me explain the difference between "living there" and "being there all the time" which understandably sounds like a semantics argument. One does not let unfounded outcomes of logical scenarios to impact their behavior. And that's basically the difference. Spending all our time there while behaving as if we didn't. We're not consumed by scenario running, its more an unconscious background application, which occasionally requires additional resources.
Take the song Pineapple Princess by Annette Funicello (I had recently put it on a beach mix for our 2015 Summer vacation). As my INTP girlfriend and I were singing it aloud (suddenly acutely self-conscious of articulating future vows which may or may not actually take place, especially given the early point in our relationship), we simultaneously modified the lyrics to adapt them for a more modern world:
Pineapple princess, I love you, you're the sweetest girl I've seen,
And accounting for the nominal amount of change which should occur incrementally in the course of one's life at a reasonable progression, periods of maturity and growth, and provided we're still having fun with one another despite these naturally occurring changes,
Some day we're gonna marry and you'll be my pineapple queen.
Because let's face it, modern men no longer solely seek a passive homemaker and women have long ago ditched dishes for an active role in forging our collective future. Yet despite our lifespan having nearly doubled since the industrial revolution - changing very nearly everything our parents and grandparents were taught about expectations - we still insist on unyieldingly binding ourselves to one another based upon ancient, misogynistic, patriarchal theocracies. Why?
Solemn vows (promises characterized by deep sincerity) should always be open to the kind of flexibility which naturally occurs when we simply live by existing; mature, grow and gain the kind of wisdom through the joys and trials of experience which change who we are and how the world around us is changed through our perceptions. Never let a "vow" stop us from being who we are. Rather, adapt it and let it amplify us and integrate it into that deep sincerity. The two are absolutely not mutually exclusive, yet because we've been taught they are, we believe it to be true. Madness!
Can and should one apply Benjamin Franklin's pro-taxation quote, "...those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety" to relationships? Perhaps, but only if one is looking at a relationship in context of goods and services.
If we truly want to fight for what we believe in, ensure we're properly armed, because defending a vow based upon rigid, unchanging principle is an admittance of willful ignorance. ...only by contemplating, contrasting and comparing contrary ideologies can we truly believe in something with all our heart, and more importantly, all our mind. Its difficult to stand up for something we believe in when we don't know why we believe in it.
Understand that everything is a paradigm, and we alone have the ability to modify it to create unimaginable, repeatable, happiness. Question the motivation behind anyone who tells us differently - what works for us may reside on a parallel spectrum to what works for them. The future is absolutely what we make it, not what someone else - or even society itself - tells us it should be.