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What it Really Means to Live in the Momentum

Live in the Momentum - it is the name of the website, it forms the acronym for our collective, but what does it really mean? To no one’s surprise, the more common phrase is live in the moment - a misused, situational mantra often uttered by people breaking away from the chains of their daily lives to experience a fleeting moment of relaxation or a spontaneous adventure on vacation. Regardless of the event or adventure, there is one thing that living in the moment always implies: a clear end date and a return to “normalcy”.

I absolutely hate this phrase for the following reasons:

1) People do dumb shit that could end up affecting the rest of their lives simply because they were “living in the moment”.

2) It deprioritizes our mental, emotional, and sometimes physical needs.

3) It’s not a sustainable method of regularly achieving the most memorable and rewarding life experiences.

While the first reason should be easily understandable by literally every person who isn’t a nun, the other two might be a little less clear. So, let’s start by digging into the unhealthy prioritization of non-needs the phrase suggests.

Think about it. If the only times we really allow ourselves to “seize the day” are captured within those precious PTO hours, that not everyone has the privilege of accruing, our life’s priorities are way out of whack. Sleep, eat, poop, go to work, veg-out with one-too-many episodes of a Netflix series that isn’t actually that good, spend a small amount of time with our preferred companions, and start the cycle over again. It isn’t until we’ve done this day in and day out for months that we finally get a chance to shake it up and do something different. For some it’s a stay-cation or a very spenny treat-yo-self weekend at a spa. For others, it's a moment to enjoy the warm sun by the ocean, hike to a secluded mountain lake your outdoorsy coworker showed you pictures of once, or finally go to banjo camp… because you’ve always wanted to go to banjo camp. Those are the moments, the live-in-the-moment moments that are meant to carry us through life with a clearer mind, a greater sense of happiness, and perhaps even a greater appreciation for the feats the human body is capable of… but that’s not the reality of the situation.

We experience those brief and special moments of bliss and are then swiftly thrust back into our work schedules and TV watching rituals, because these are your actual live-in-the-moment priorities. We put the financial goals of our employers and the target viewership of our streaming services before our happiness and personal dreams. Of course working and vegging play their roles in maintaining our own financial stability, but with a little shift in thinking, they don’t have to be the things that limit or trap us in an unsatisfactory cycle that disconnects us from enjoying life on a regular basis. Simple changes can be made that keep our mental, emotional, and physical needs at front of mind and help motivate us to do the necessary saving, research, or investments in training to pursue our bigger dreams while enjoying and appreciating the journey to get there.

This directly bleeds into the third reason I hate the phrase - it is unsustainable.

We can’t keep doing this to ourselves - putting aside the needs of our personhood, our humanness - to contribute our brain power and emotional energy to a job that likely isn’t in line with all of the youthful dreams and visions we once had for ourselves. While pursuing youthful dreams might not be the best move either, delaying attention to the needs of our being until random short bursts of “free time” are allotted to us is sure to get us to the end of our days wishing we had done more, done this, or done that. It causes us to give up or change up in often unhealthy and destructive ways. We can’t let our inner child down - the little me and the little you with big ideas for whom we would never wish to get to the end of their days having only lived a life of unrealized dreams.

That is what it means to live in the moment. And it’s sad.

So what is the difference between living in the moment and living in the momentum? For some, living in the momentum may imply, shall we say, a coked-up experience of life - always on the go, always up-beat, always ready for the next best thing. That is not at all what it means to me. “Live in the momentum” is meant to be a true mantra, something that is said frequently, or at the very least, is a reminder to consider a different perspective on life and to revisit where you are going and how you are getting there. This shift in perspective can best be described via the following analogy:

Entering the waters of life

Imagine yourself as a kayaker and your boat is the toolkit of skills, talents, and support systems you possess from birth. The river you venture down and its banks are time and the experience of life. Some people come into life with more equipped boats, others come into life with a thing that could barely be considered a boat. Nevertheless, you have your toolkit and if you’re lucky, you have more experienced kayakers to greet you and can warn of dangers that may lie ahead. Just like entering the water, you enter the world with certain characteristics that could influence your experience. And while your parents or influential adults, aka those elder kayakers, can share the life skills and knowledge that aided them in their own journeys, they cannot predict the life you will lead.

Navigating the flow

As you make your way down the river of life, you will inevitably need to stop and gather more resources - gain knowledge, learn new skills, or accrue other tools or friends that can help keep you safe or help you successfully navigate through rocky patches. Some people will unfortunately find that embracing the fullness of life feels like too much work, is too uncertain, or feels too dangerous to continue on the path forward. So, instead, they will find a calm patch of water protected by forested edges and remain there until their resources are depleted... you can infer how this portion of the analogy pans out in real life.

Gauging the speed

Impatient folks, thrill seekers, and those that avoid moments of rest for fear of being alone may rush through the rapids without the proper tools or skills and inevitably destroy their boats (this ties back to the number 1 reason I hate the phrase “live in the moment”). Rushing through life without gaining the proper skills to deal with hard times, accidents, and tragedies can not only lead to destruction of one’s resources but pull people down into the water unable to breathe - holding them there until they lose everything they know about themselves. For instance, a reckless driver gives control to the thrill of the adrenaline rush and inevitably causes a tragic accident, losing their job, support systems, and freedoms in an instant.

Finding true north

Those that decide to fully participate in the journey of life are best suited to reach their destination by going at a pace that works for them - taking rests when needed, and in smooth waters, allowing the flow of the river to do the work while enjoying the ride. Being prepared for the potential obstacles, and not meandering too far down branching streams or distributaries is also key to success. While it is incredibly valuable to branch off into the unknown for a time, allowing for some thoroughly enriching or disturbing life experiences, it is best to instill a good sense of direction in yourself to find the way back if the path you’ve gone down is a bit too treacherous.

After some branching exploration and taking occasional long rests upon strange sandy banks, you will hopefully find yourself once again at THE river - a little older, a little wiser, and hopefully a little stronger. No matter what we do, life always seems to want to bring us back to a familiar place near to the spot we branched off. And when it does, hopefully sooner than later, that is the moment to embrace the momentum. That is the time to trust yourself, your skills, and your knowledge to get you through whatever may lie ahead, and this time you have your sights set, not on the destination, but on the experience of the journey. You can master the rocks and the rapids and take less rests on the shores. Your instincts, knowledge, and experience now guide you, and if you get tired and decide to take a break, there is no longer a need to think you’ve set yourself back, but rather you are simply taking time to muster up the necessary energy to keep moving forward.

Keeping the pace

This is what it means to live in the momentum - when you no longer see obstacles as limiting but challenges to keep your skills in check, when you no longer see pauses or deviations from the clear path as disruptive but rejuvenating, and when you lose control but no longer feel lost and trust that your sense of direction and intuition will guide you back toward your destination. So no matter where you are in your journey, there are always opportunities to enjoy it and learn from it. Notice those moments more and acknowledge that if you have the intent of tackling something difficult ahead, your rest isn’t a setback but a necessary step to build the strength and energy to pursue your bigger goals.

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