Getting ready to live, but never actually living.
"Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for." -Epicurus
I have a problem with not actually being happy with what I currently have. I believe in always pushing forward to new heights and searching for better horizons. This is certainly not a bad thing, but it has definitely led to some negative effects in my life, like unnecessary stress.
Epicurus was a Hedonist; someone who relentlessly pursued pleasure. The constant conquest of pleasure definitely held a sort of intimidating air for me. I want to have fun but I didn't want to go overboard.
Epicurus is what we could call a careful hedonist. In the above quote he's telling us to take a deep breath and accept the fact that the present is about as good as it gets. He's asking us to take the time to realize that acquiring the next new thing will only take us back to the start line: desiring and chasing something new.
My grandpa less eloquently stated this very same fact, "You already know what you don't like about what you got, but you'll never be sure of what you won't like of what you don't got." We as humans will always find something wrong with our current situation.
I recently moved to a new state, away from many people that support and encourage me. It's hard for me to come to this new state, 1,000 miles away from the people I love the most and be content with where I'm at. I'm working towards being back with the people who build me up. Everything I do now is with the intent of moving back soon. I think that's where an exception should be taken to Epicurus' extreme idea of going through life without any desires at all.
I don't think we should take such a black and white approach to life. Life is about balance. We should enjoy every single minute of life at that very minute. But just sitting in that moment, languidly, with no thought to what comes next, will cause even more discontent.
An important part of life is setting goals. Accomplishing those goals is what brings many satisfaction in life. Knowing what is ahead of you is just as important as living in the moment and enjoying the season of life you're currently in. It all comes down to pondering the outcome of the path you're on.
Pondering the outcome is fundamental to living a happy life. Simply enjoying the moment without a thought to the outcome of your actions is a poor way to go through life. If I was to skip work because I wanted to enjoy the moment of sleep I was currently in, I would lose my job. If I was to eat everything that came in sight that even looked remotely appetizing because that's what I wanted in the moment, I would regret the effect that lifestyle would have on my body. Weighing options and considering outcomes is an important part of being a human.
Don't dilute your life by always wondering what's next, never enjoying the now.
Don't waste your life by only enjoying the now and never pondering the outcome of what's next.