A former neighbor of mine called out to me one day (many moons ago) as I was doing a power walk past his house. “Hey, trying to get your youth back?” He was a real jokester.
I stopped for a little conversation. My children, who were quite little at the time, were playing in the backyard under the watchful eye of their dad. “Geez, I said, can’t wait for the day when I don’t have to keep such a constant eye on them.”
In his wisdom, he said, “Don’t wish your life away.”
At the time, I thought, sure, you don’t have to watch these rascals 24/7. But here I am, 20 years later thinking about when they were little, and yes, I was a lot younger.
As usual, Joan has some wisdom about this, just as my neighbor had all those years ago.
Q. In certain moments of our life, isn’t it a bit natural to wish the hard parts were over?
Joan: “The trick is to enjoy life. Don’t wish away your days, waiting for better ones ahead.” This is a quote by Marjorie Pay Hinckley I recently stumbled upon. Marjorie’s words got me to thinking about just what you’re talking about and my life. I can tell you, I have rushed most of it away, not being fully present or savoring the joy of any moment.
Q. Why do you think that is? Aside from not wanting it to be so hard all the time, why do we want to rush through it, as you say?
Joan: When I was a teenager, I couldn’t wait to “grow up” so I could drink or go to college or get married. When my children were infants and toddlers, I muddled through most days in anticipation of the evening when they would go to sleep or when they would be older and more self-sufficient. When I was the caregiver for my parents, I struggled through those years frazzled and exhausted. When I held job positions that were unfulfilling, I wished for the day that I would find employment that made me happy. Looking back, I can’t recall one period in my life in which I wasn’t looking ahead to something different or “better.”
Q. What made you more aware of being happy in the moment?
Joan: The sad thing is that it took tremendous loss to wake me up: the loss of my marriage, the deaths of my parents and siblings, my children growing up and moving on with their lives. Now, I strive to live in the present. All those quotes about leaving the past behind and not worrying about the future are so true. When you live in the past or try to anticipate the future, you miss the here and now.
Q. Give us a hint on how to do that right now.
Joan: When you are dealing with a challenge, look for the positive and learn from the experience.
If you are caring for a sick loved one, treasure every minute because, I promise you, one day you would give anything to nurse that person again.
If your children are driving you crazy, remember that sooner than you will like, they will be moving out and starting their own lives.
Remember that all the seemingly insignificant moments – good and bad – are as Paul Anka said, the times of your life. Enjoy them all!
Editor’s Note: There are moments I wish I would have savored more. But with those gone, I savor what I have now. As for this holiday weekend, I will savor the good weather and friends and family…knowing that time will not stand still, but I can, even for a few moments of enjoyment.