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What Katie Did Next: 'In which I try to take things as they come'


Mindfulness is a technique many swear by

Mindfulness is a technique many swear by

Mindfulness is a technique many swear by

'Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present." How easy life would be if we could readily subscribe to fridge magnet wisdom.

The reality is that we reflect too much on the past, fantasise too much about the future or worry that we're not enjoying the present.

Yes, we've signed up for the eight-week Mindfulness course in the local community centre and at least purported to have read The Power of Now, but it's difficult to quiten the mind when everything else is moving at breakneck speed.

So we tell ourselves that to be still is to be rudderless. We decide that it's best to have something to fixate upon, whether it's trials of the past or plans for the future.

I pride myself on not living in the past. Indeed, I have a tendency to roll my eyes at those shoulda-woulda-coulda types, especially when they utter that oft-quoted line "If I knew then what I know now".

If you knew then what you know now, you'd miss the whole point of existence. It's all part of the learning curve.

Mistakes, regrets, betrayals? I can't even remember - or at least I made the decision to forget. All those yesterdays are almost instantly erased like self-deleting files on a computer drive. Hence compassion, forgiveness and acceptance are my Mastermind subjects.

But there are two sides to every coin: while I'm grateful that I don't fixate on the past, I have to concede that I have a tendency to live in the future.

People like me never really unpack their suitcase. They're always one step ahead, plotting the next position and working out how they can get there. It's a mostly useful thought pattern in that it fuels ambition, productivity and adaptability.

Plus we're never really shocked by revelations as we've already imagined and accepted every possible outcome of a situation before it's even happened. Forget the power of now - this philosophy is more Angela Merkel than Eckhart Tolle.

But like everything it comes with a price. Those that forecast the future also have a tendency to fantasise (think award ceremonies and interviews on the Late Late Show) and dramatise (lower back pain becomes a cancer scare and a text message from a sibling reading "give me a call" is deciphered as a crisis at home).

Apply this thought pattern to a situation that has already taken a flight of fantasy and you have what can only be described as borderline psychosis. Alas, forecasting into the future and romantic relationships are not the comfiest of bedfellows.

It doesn't help that traditional romantic relationships have distinct milestones (marriage - babies - joint bank account); women of a certain age have deadlines and society tells us that successful unions are based on staying power.

There was a rather attractive man on the mat across from me during a recent yoga class. We didn't exchange a word - we barely even made eye contact - and yet I constructed our entire relationship in my head.

I imagined how we'd tell our story. "Well, actually, we met in a yoga class! I know - crazy!" I imagined the challenges we'd face bringing up our children as vegetarians (clearly he was a vegetarian). I imagined our cosmic sex life - maybe we'd even rewrite the Kama Sutra for the modern, contemporary reader.

Only then I saw the Sanskrit tattoo and the t-shirt which looked to have been picked up in a market stall in Peru. Naturally I imagined the worst.


A Nomad, a journeyman, a wanderer - and me at home with four mouths to feed! The case was closed when I saw his headstand. Anyone that good at headstands is clearly making sacrifices elsewhere.

He was dumped by the time the one-and-a-half-hour lesson drew to a close. I think I even gave him a dirty look as we pulled our shoes on afterwards.

In real-life I'm enjoying a promising rendezvous with someone whose month of birth/middle name/favourite colour and other vital stats I have yet to discover.

But that hasn't stopped me wondering what I'll wear when I meet his parents, deciding where we'll take our first foreign holiday and imagining what our children will look like.

I've fallen into the other trap, too: The one where you list all the potential hurdles and outline all their apparent shortcomings when someone casually enquires how the whole thing is progressing.

A friend pointed this out to me the other day. "Why can't you just take it as it comes?" she asked. "You're enjoying it for what it is now. Why wonder what it will be like in the future?"

She has a point. I have a habit of cutting relationships short when I predict trouble ahead. Another friend pointed out that I'll miss out on all the fun to be had now if I keep analysing the potential of a future.

I should add that both of these friends have a tendency to live in the past so maybe these types are best served to offer advice to those who forecast too far into the future. They have, after all, had plenty of time to dwell on their mistakes, romantic and otherwise.