Very many of us suffer from a peculiar-sounding problem: an inability to properly inhabit the stretch of time we call ‘the present’. Maybe we’re on a beautiful beach on a sunny day, the sky is azure and the palm trees slender and implausibly delicate, but most of ‘us’ isn’t actually here at all, it’s somewhere at work or in imaginary discussion with a rival or plotting a new enterprise.
Or maybe we’re at the birthday of a child: it’s enormously significant for her and we love her dearly, but we are elsewhere; our body is rooted in the now, but our minds are skipping to points in both the future and in the past. What is it that makes the present, especially the nicer moments of the present, so difficult to experience properly? And why, conversely, can so many events feel easier to enjoy, appreciate and perceive, when they are firmly over?