As an unwavering, hard-core Zen practitioner, you know that this inscrutable moment contains the entirety of reality. All previous times and all future times are unreal in practical terms. From this you deduce that the past is over and done with, that the future is yet unborn, and you resolve to focus all of your energy on being here now.
Not only that, you have also heard that every seven years every molecule in your body is replaced. It means that the you from seven years ago, or seven years from now is literally an entirely different physical being.
Fascinating, but not all that meaningful in the real world. As a normal person you know, experientially, that although the past is in the past, you feel some continuity from yesterday to today, and it’s a basic assumption that today leads into tomorrow. It’s not something that even needs to be said.
I’ve contemplated this over the years, this disconnect between what can rationally be proven about time and molecular rejuvenation, and what one experiences. The big takeaway for me is simply this: Take care of future you.
Think of the person in the future, that guy or gal who has your face, as being a different person than the you right now. Not just molecularly different, but as a different entity. You try to live by the Golden Rule with everyone else. Why not practice being kind to that person too?
Take care of future you. Set things up to make life easier for him or her. Lay his shoes out by the door where he can get to them. Make sure there’s something good to eat for breakfast tomorrow morning. Make a schedule for things that need to be done, and stick to it. Turn off the TV and go to bed. Conserve your energy; stop wasting it on problems you can’t do anything about. Get some exercise. Don’t do it because you should. Do it out of kindness.
Be better than the you that’s behind you and set things up so that the you that is in front of you will be better than the you you are now.
Future you will love you for it.