We never keep to the present



We never keep to the present.
We recall the past;
we anticipate the future
as if we found it too slow
in coming and were trying
to hurry it up,
or we recall the past
as if to stay
its too rapid flight.
We are so unwise
that we wander about
in times that do not belong
to us, and do not think
of the only one that does;
so vain that we dream
of times that are not
and blindly flee
the only one that is.
The fact is that the present
usually hurts. We thrust
it out of sight because
it distresses us,
and if we find it enjoyable,
we are sorry to see
it slip away. We try
to give it the support
of the future, and think
how we are going to arrange
things over which we have
no control for a time
we can never be sure of
reaching. Let each of us examine
her thoughts; she will find
them wholly concerned
with the past or the future.
We almost never think
of the present,
and if we do think
of it, it is only to see
what light it throws
on our plans for the future.
The present is never our end.
The past and the present are
our means, the future alone our end.
Thus, we never actually live,
but hope to live,
and since we are always planning
how to be happy,
it is inevitable
that we should never be so.


Blaise Pascale, from Pensées

With thanks to Alwyn Harries


You can read more found poems here

You can read the Lifesaving Poems series of blog posts here


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