To give credit where credit is due, I owe this line of thinking to my husband’s oldest son. Long have I heard the tale of Joel as a very young boy perched longingly on a fence railing waiting with the sort of awe and anticipation that only the unencumbered minds of childhood allow, for his turn to ride a horse! And as he is trying his hardest to wait patiently for his turn at something he has been imaging and dreaming about for so very long, he turns to his dad and says, “Dad, this riding horses sure is fun. Just not yet.”
Every time I think on this story I get tears in my eyes thinking about that pure, untainted belief and wonder that is part of childhood. That Joel, as a young boy could so vividly feel the experience before ever touching the saddle is a testament to the sort of vision and imagination and the certainty about both that seems reserved for children who have yet to be altered in their beliefs by the weight of the world. And each time I hear this story, it makes me wonder with admitted sadness, where has our imagination gone? Our vision for our amazing lives that is so real we can wholeheartedly declare, without pause or hesitation, it to be AMAZING.
Well, much to our collective chagrin, AMAZING has been put on hold. We’re apparently all participating in the life lay-away plan. My life will be amazing when I graduate from college. When I get married. When I land that job. When I quit my job. When I finish grad school. When I get that contract. When I close that deal. When I lose 10 pounds. When I have kids. When I get a boob job. When I buy a first house. A better house. A better car. When I finally go on that vacation. When I have money in the bank. When I retire. When I meet “the One.” Problem is, our delayed life is completely and utterly useless to us. Now I am not talking about the exuberant anticipation of some special moment or event. I am talking about our endless ability to put joy on hold in favor of some imagined check point where and when we will finally give ourselves permission to be happy.
Anybody who has ever been on a regimen or diet knows that this constant deprivation does nothing but make us downright surly. As it should. I can only hope that we are all irritable over the fact that we keep telling ourselves that happiness is just one job, one date, one deal, one dream away. The reality is that this sort of thinking ensures only one thing. That the beauty, the joy, the wonder, the magic of life will always be out of arms reach. Why? Because we need to taste it now. We need to be present with every win, lose or draw in the game of life as it is playing itself out. We need to allow our moments be so warm with the pulse of life that we cannot help but be drawn to their enticing rhythm. The more that is on our to-do list, the less we will have on our “look what I did!” list. Because life isn’t about grinding, it’s about grabbing. Grabbing onto the here and now with your whole heart.
Simple case in point; during the holidays I get a bit wrapped around the axel shall we say. Focused with rigid, obsessed anxiety on orchestrating every detail of the Season. What it must look like, feel like and how, above all else, it, and everyone involved, must submit to my Plan. All of my intense and concentrated efforts are aimed at creating a ridiculously specific type of experience for my family. So to cut to the moral of my story I was making myself and everybody around me crazy trying to engineer an experience for the payoff of some incredible ensemble of memories. But contrary to all my intense efforts toward overachievement, do you know what my best moment of the entire Season was? Doing a puzzle with my five year old son in the early pre-dawn hours one morning. The house was quiet. The morning was peaceful and I had not yet begun my relentless assault on manufacturing our memories. This wasn’t planned. I just let it happen. I just enjoyed it. I allowed myself to settle into the wonder of the moment and in doing so I can confess that amidst all the flashiness and expectation of my willful determination, it was the single best moment of the entire Season. For a brief pause it wasn’t about clawing my way toward a desired result, it was simply and blissfully about a moment so humbly spectacular that I will never forget the memory or the lesson it taught me. It is BECAUSE I wasn’t focused on the next thing that I, oh so briefly, enjoyed something AMAZING.
So stand on the fence of your life for just a moment and watch what is happening around you. Allow every hope and dream you have to be so real, undeniable and vivid in that moment that you can taste the experience of it. Allow yourself to dream, wish, hope and create with all the brilliance you can imagine, but while doing so realize that right here, right now, even though IT hasn't happened yet…your Life is amazing and waiting for you to notice it.