It is possible to both be fully in the present moment and to sow a brighter future for yourself. Our culture, however, creates a false dichotomy between the two, and what we end up with is citizens who fit the bill.
The two extremes
On one side you have the Epicurean hedonist. Lacking the requisite strength of character to persist with anything that takes time or effort, they instead claim that it’s better to “live for the moment.” Thinking about the future seems so boring and passé – what if I die tomorrow?
Whilst it can seem like a really bold and brave way to live, what people who claim to “live for the moment” are usually doing is avoiding facing themselves by indulging in bodily pleasures. Another drink, another burger, another shag… It soon gets very boring to be around these people.
If the moment they claimed to be living in was so fantastic, why would they crave the change in brain-state they can only get through ingesting chemical compounds?
There are people who live for the moment, but they will tend to be genuinely satisfied with the moment – not constantly in need of their next hit.
On the other side, you have the deferred-life-plan type. They focus on nothing but the future. They think of themselves very highly – they are not stupid thrill-seekers like the hedonists. They believe that by putting all their focus on the future, they can shape and control it.
This type lacks strength of character too, they just show it in a very different way: Whilst hedonists cling to the present because they fear the future, deferred-life-planners cling to the future so that they never have to face the present.
The dichotomy is false – you don’t have to be like either of these types.
Meaningful present = bright future
Living for the moment isn’t getting wasted and shagging. And sowing a brighter future isn’t scrimping every penny until you’re 65 and you can allow yourself to “enjoy” a retirement.
There is a middle path.
If you can find out what makes you feel alive – what gives meaning to your existence – then the more you make that thing a part of your life, the more your future will tend to just take care of itself.