Header Graphic
Column Archives > Being in the moment even before you get to the end

Being in the moment even before you get to the end
26 Dec 2022

     The problem is wanting to be done.

     You can't start a book and only care about when you finish. Or college. Or parenthood.

     And it's pretty clear why, when you think about it. Because if you're only thinking about finishing, you'll hurry too fast through what's inside.

     I have done it/do it all of the time, which makes me a bit of an expert. So I can say without any doubt, that when you just want to be done, you're going to miss something.

     I've gotta admit, when I look at that pile of books I got from friends and family at Christmas and birthday put together, I get pretty anxious about finishing one or five as quickly as possible.

     But when I start into a chapter on islands in the Seine or insights from a Civil Rights activist or experiences of an immigrant, I find it's better not to hurry. And even better to stop every now and then to think.

     One of the things we're almost all bad at is being in the present. We're too often looking for the next step. The next skill. The next project.

     It was 12 years ago I first spoke about this at a conference, and I think I forgot it all over.

     So here I go again.

     When you're sitting at home watching a movie, just watch the movie. Don't think about how you're going to have to finish the dishes as soon as it's over or what you've got going tomorrow.

     When you're talking to someone, listen to what they're saying and try to learn more about where they're coming from before you jump in to share what you think about it all.

     When you're on a hike in the snow, don't worry about whether you'll get back before dark when freezing temperatures get more freezing, just enjoy the snow on the trees and the crunch of your books and the quiet of the surroundsing. (Don't ask me why I use that as an example. But I'm happy to report that we did get back before dark and the snow was incredibly beautiful.)

     You fill in the next examples.

     When were you so far ahead of where you were and so anxious for it to be over that you missed being there all together?

     There is so much to enjoy about what's here and now -- even if it's in process. There is so much to experience, to relish, to love.

     I felt that again when my two-year-old granddaughter was (finally) playing quietly on her own. This is my chance to pick up that book and get caught up on some reading, I said to myself. Then no, I said to myself even louder, this is your chance to just sit and watch your two-year-old grauddaughter discover and explore. The book was still there after she'd fallen asleep that night. And it will still be there in two years when she's discovering and exploring other things. This was the moment that couldn't be relived if I didn't live it right smack dab as it was happening.

     Moments like that fill our lives all the time.

     Let's be there.


Updated from first printing in the Davis Journal, March 2022

Louise R. Shaw