Open Letter to People Who Say “Live in the Moment”

Dear People Who Say “Live in the Moment”,

Hi. I’m Heather. I’ve heard many many times how I’m supposed to “live in the moment.” To avoid confusion, I’ve also heard it put this way: “be in the present” “be in the now” and “be in the moment.”

I have a few questions.

1.What if I’m not enjoying the particular moment that I’m in? Why would anyone want to be in that moment? I can understand why the person saying “be in the moment” would want to be in the moment, because it’s fun to give advice. But maybe the person giving the advice doesn’t understand the complexity of the situation?

2. I’m unclear. If we’re supposed to be in the moment, what should we do with that thing at play all the time in our lives called… MEMORY? (To clarify: both short and long term.)

3. If we’re supposed to be in the moment, what about all those things we call: CONSEQUENCES?

4. If we’re supposed to be in the moment, why is it best to make appointments instead of just showing up? Unless you’re suggesting I can show up somewhere like an airport or doctor’s office or a friend’s house and say, “I’m just living in the moment. You should live in the moment too. Then you wouldn’t have to ask me to call first.”

5. What “moment” are we talking about here anyway? Is it this moment? How about this one? There were three moments right there since you got to this paragraph. Or are those considered sentences and the moment is the entire period of time you’re reading this paragraph? Are we talking 1/100th of a second? A six hour long TV show marathon? I’m guessing a “moment” is categorized by the thing you’re doing at the time. But only if it’s fun!

6. In fact, when you say “live in the moment” do you mean all the time? Or just, ironically, for a moment? It seems to me that anyone who is organized, counted on by someone else, keeps a routine, has a job, is unemployed, is compassionate, goal oriented, or wants to contribute to society in general, may find it quite impossible to live in the moment all the time.

7. Since we’re on the subject, what is the goal of living in the moment, exactly? Is the idea a life of pure joy? Tranquility without any thoughts or emotions? Straight up impulse and disregard?

8. If your intention in saying “Live in the Moment” is more about acceptance, as in I should accept what’s happening at any moment good or bad, I ask if you’re suggesting that “passive” is the way to go. 

Perhaps the moment you’re talking about is roughly 90 minutes. Something like when people put their phones away and have some laughs over a nice lunch. Or volunteering and really connecting with people while doing something purposeful. Getting into a project without needing distraction. Paying attention!

If that’s the case, reflection afterwards usually sounds more like: “I really enjoyed that!” than: “I lived in that moment!” Perhaps moving forward you could tell people instead, “Really enjoy that.”

Warm regards,


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8 Comments on “Open Letter to People Who Say “Live in the Moment””

  1. phyllis ragusa says:

    See NOW I have a headache.
    I think living in the “now” is just being aware. It’s not about the dentist appointment. But when you get to the dentist and get all nervous about what’s gonna happen, live with that unsettled feeling. Along with the relief that follows, when it winds up not hurting. Don’t dwell in the past, or get lost in the future. It’s all about balance.
    I love the way you write.

    1. Heather Maidat says:

      Thank you!! Haha (“NOW I have headache”). I like your take on it. From a Thank You For Not Wasting My Time perspective, it speaks to me as consistent emotional recovery.

  2. I enjoy your writings – witty but thoughtful

    1. Heather Maidat says:

      Thank you so much.

  3. I think “Live in the moment” means when you get worried or overwhelmed bring it back to what you can do right then in there.

    1. Heather Maidat says:

      That’s a great way to look at it, Kim. Thanks.

  4. Heather,
    I, too, am often caught up in WHICH moment I am to embrace:i.e is it the “now” before the present (which was/is? the present) or is it the “now” when I think of the very next “now”? ‘‘‘Tis a puzzlement. Like in meditation, we are to focus on nothing or let intruding past/present thoughts fade.
    Perhaps there is no “now” – only the past and the future?

    1. Heather Maidat says:

      I love that – “the now before the present which was/is? the present.” Haha! Fascinating – No now!

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