Friday, September 20, 2013

Claiming the Gift

This blog post was written by my dear friend Christine who also has a blog. I could not agree more!

Why is it always so difficult to live in the present?

We have spent so much of the last year of our lives in places other than the present moment: Counting up and then down the weeks of pregnancy, counting down the days until our epic hiking trip with epic friends, waiting those eternal 13 days after Lil' Man's due date constantly wondering which moment would finally make us parents, counting down the days to when we get to see our families and friends again...  and then afterwards, looking back at pictures and videos and remembering it all over.  

One more day of work this week.  Three more days till we get to celebrate our anniversary.  Possibly 4 more months until we can step on another international flight.  

There is such a tendency for me to turn to the future.  But I also love reminiscing about the past.  The other night, for example, when I couldn't sleep at 4am (p.s. Did you know that green tea actually does have caffeine?!?!)  I was trying to remember all of the names of the families that lived in the neighborhood where I grew up.  I love visiting places of my childhood, remembering moments from last year, last summer, college, high school, growing up, whenever.

It's not that these thoughts in themselves are bad; it is necessary to plan ahead, and it is appropriate to be thankful for things of the past and those yet to come.  But I have never been able to feel a deeper sense of gratitude than when I am choosing to stay in the present moment and experience it for what it is - 

When I can sit, utterly enthralled by a 5 month old - the way he moves, reacts, and changes miraculously every day...

Being so engaged in conversation that it is impossible to think of anything outside of it for the moment...

Feeling so profoundly grateful to be in a place, with the people I'm with, that I forget about everything I have to do when I get home...  

When I get lost in the past or future, I miss the moments that are given to me right now.  I also miss out on the gratitude that those new gifts evoke in me.  

I am grateful for the ability to remember and be thankful for the past, and to be excited and grateful for the future.  But I want to be more disciplined in experiencing and engaging my present.  For me, that looks like respecting, but not living by, my agenda.  It's being aware of each of my 5 senses wherever I am.  It's limiting my time looking at photo albums.  It's resisting the temptation to believe the lie that playing with Coen on a floor surrounded by dirty dishes, unwritten lesson plans, and an overflowing Inbox is "wasting time."

Living in the present, for me, is undoubtedly a discipline, but one I have found to be worth it. It's a gift we are all given, but one we must intentionally accept.

What does it look like for you?