Some days I get impatient with my blessings. I want certain things to arrive by a specific date. Or I am tired of waiting because I want something fun and exciting to start. But as I do this I am wishing away the joy of the moment. I am envisioning some better tomorrow when what I have and what I only have ever – is this moment right now. Wishing for another day so some future pleasure or experience to delight me distracts from the wonder and the beauty of the present moment. It’s what Daniel Tiger calls, “Enjoy the Wow in the Now.”
Those words are magic at our house – and so apropos particularly when talking with our children. They are so eager for dessert, a family movie night, or for the weekend that it’s easy to forget that what they’re doing in the moment is pretty lovely too – eating a home cooked meal with family, reading and cuddling on the couch, or on their way to practice a sport or activity that they love. As an adult it’s pretty easy to get caught up in this mindset too – constantly wishing and hoping for what comes next and forgetting to enjoy the moment. Particularly because everything that I once dreamed of I am enjoying now.
My entire life was once a hope and a dream that has manifested before me. I was speaking with my Grandmother recently and we were going through so old family papers, mixed in the pile was a letter she had sent as a young mother to her own mother on vacation in Florida. She wrote of the schedule her children were keeping that week and as I read she laughed. She said, “I have no idea how I kept track of all of that!”
The woman raised eight children and the list of activities, cub scout meetings, instrument practices, lessons, and dinners was incredible – what impressed me even more was that not only did she have time to remember all of those things but she sent dinner over for her mother’s neighbors, picked up the mail at her mom’s house, and had time to write the letter I was now reading. The woman is a legend. And in all honesty even with email reminders, my various calendars, and sticky notes I can barely keep track of our sweet little family of four let alone, juggling which kid was given permission to borrow the car and what lessons they were delivering the rest to attend before going to work.
My grandmother says those were the happiest time in her life, those days when she was so busy she just did things all day. And she points out that she didn’t know it then. Because how could she have? I think it’s a wonder she even brushed her teeth or remembered to comb her hair. And yet she did it all, she wore lovely dresses, was an active member of her church, President of the Mother’s Club at her son’s school, and a devoted and loving parent and partner. When I look at a life like hers I am struck by how she must have lived in the moment. She must have remained focused on each task as a single step.
I am not jealous or eager to replicate her “Busy,” but what I believe the pace of her life did was force her to be in the moment. She didn’t have an opportunity to focus on the future or to strategize because with so many moving parts, pieces, people, she had to be fully present exactly where she was at that moment. And that is what I strive to remember.
When I am longing for the future or eager to skip ahead to the part where I’m a famous writer, traveling in private jets, appearing on talk shows to discuss my work, and speaking to large groups to share what I have learned along the way I try to remember that the magic is happening right now. The magic is in my son inviting me to come play with him. The magic is in the moment as I write these words. The magic is not some distant goal or dream – which will come whenever the universe and I am ready, I have no doubt. The magic is in enjoying this moment – the process of writing, the delight that comes when my child and I are playing in our imaginations together, and the very real and sacred beauty that exists in the here and now. The silence of my studio, the warm glow of the light at my side, the rumble in my tummy that tells me it’s time for dinner. All of this is a gift for which I am truly grateful. This life is so wonderful and there will be more amazing and wonderful things to come however the most magic exists in the here and now and the best thing I can do is be present and savor it because this is truly the best time of my life and the only time I have to live it.