As I planted tulip bulbs I thought about how beautiful they would look when they bloomed in the spring. The actual planting of the bulbs took a lot of work because the ground was a combination of hard clay and mud. By the time I was finished I was very wet and muddy. But, what kept me planting was the picture of how much we would enjoy them in the future.
My present self was giving my future self a gift.
Consumer debt on the other hand works the other way. Debt suggests, “Why not enjoy this now? You can pay for it in the future.”
In a way, our present self gives our future self a problem.
This is not to say that all debt is wrong. There is “good” debt. There is debt that sets up a provision of a return that will also benefit the future self. Good debt can provide a home, or transportation, or the basis of an ongoing business that will grow into the future.
Like getting muddy for the moment, we know that time will bring a reward for our work.
Discovering and uncovering this intention takes some serious time and thought. We are constantly bombarded by intentions for our lives, most of which we are unaware of choosing. These can either be our own, or intentions that others choose for us, or worldview intentions.
Here are some basic examples of these different kinds of intentions.
It promises current satisfaction since there may not be a future to enjoy. It tells us that we deserve it now. This point of view, and the intention that grows from it, like a weed, needs to be uprooted and destroyed in each of us.
In the fall I watch the leaves of the tree outside my office window slowly flutter to the ground. With each dropping leaf, more of the tree is revealed. I can clearly see the cardinal’s nest from summer. I can easily see birds make their way through the branches eating the berries of the tree.
Trees are willing to let their leaves go. They know that their leaves will return in the spring. Not because they make them appear, but because it is part of the process of renewal.
As humans we hold on to what we have. We become afraid that we will never get something like it again, or we need it to remind ourselves of something.
When I first returned to the East, after living for years in California, I dreaded the winter and the sight of trees without leaves. When I expressed this thought to Del he said, “But, naked trees are beautiful.” Looking with a new point of view I saw what he meant.
Without leaves we can see the full structure of the tree. Without leaves we can see what was hidden and is now revealed.
It is as if we can see the intention of the tree.
The roots of the tree have an intention to provide a base of support and nourishment. From this intention the trunk grows with its own intention of providing the support for the leaves, which in turn have an intention of providing food for the trunk and the roots. The beauty of the tree, and the shade it produces are the by-products of its intention to grow.
As we let our old leaves fall, or those intentions we don’t need anymore, the full structure of our life stands revealed.
Each of us has an intention that is specific to us personally, and this carries into each moment of our day and each decision we make.
Conscious intentions produce conscious choices. When we learn to choose consciously we will no longer be swayed by the intentions of our past self, or other people, or the worldview.
Let’s not give our future self a problem. We can trust in the knowledge that living fully conscious of our intentions today, produces gifts for our future self, just as the leaves returning to a tree are the result of its intention to grow.