Whenever we’re really anxious, if we stop and get our bearings we find our minds are in the future, imagining all sorts of outcomes that don’t exist as well as an overwhelming number of things to do about them. The result is subtly terrifying.
In this teeny clip found at the great @_nitch, American writer Henry Miller described his essential philosophy of living. It is an amazingly good antidote for anxiety and a guide to how to know what to do next.
You live from moment to moment. So in doing that, this moment decides the next step.
You shouldn’t be five steps ahead. Only the next one. If you can keep to that, you’ll always be alright.
Do only what’s right under your nose to do.
It is a simple, rough, direct form of mindfulness, expressed in a way that makes it seem more do-able than most.
“Letting the moment decide the next step” is exactly what is involved in the creative process, when deep into the flow of painting, writing, cooking, making just-about-anything. Anni Albers called it “listening to the materials, to that which wants to be done”. Ainslie Henderson’s sublime little film about making stop-motion puppets nails it perfectly:
…from there you just start improvising. It’s like making music, you just see where it leads you…Suddenly what was just stuff becomes this current…
Curious that what we do so easily in the realm of creativity sometimes seems harder to apply in life. They are really the same thing.
Let this moment decide the next step…