I woke up the other morning and looked at the calendar. I realized that September was quickly fading away, and soon it would be Fall. I’ve already put in two months at my new job, despite feeling like I only got there yesterday. My race calendar is filled up with activities almost every weekend through October. My wife is quickly approaching the mid point of her coursework, before yet another clinical experience, and finishing another semester.
As I thought about all of these things, I realized that I’m letting time slip away from me on purpose. In my life right now we’re in a holding pattern, waiting for other things to finish or change. My wife will be graduating and starting a new career at the end of this school year. My step-son will be graduating this Spring as well. We’ve already discussed plans at each step of the way as our kids move through college and high school, such as where we might want to live and what type of lifestyle we want to have as we move into being empty nesters.
Yet, today, I started to worry that perhaps all of this planning, and anticipation, as we look forward to what is to come, may in fact be causing me to lose sight of the present. I question if my desire for the future is making it hard for me to be happy in the “now”, and causing me to simply coast through the life that is happening around me every day. Am I missing out on being alive today, because I’m so looking forward to the possibility of tomorrow?
Perhaps this isn’t a new problem for me. It seems that throughout much of my life I’ve had a desire to keep moving on to the next thing. Very rarely have I ever been content to just “be”, I’ve always been seeking something. My career consists of regular job moves, every one of them a step up, usually about three years apart. The only time I stayed at a job for longer (8 years) was when I was going to school for a possible career change (becoming a pastor). Often I achieve my goals, and what I set out to do, and then realize that I’m at a plateau and don’t know how to be content without looking at what I can do to get to another change.
There was one time in my life where I feel I was content, and it was in the oddest of circumstances for it to occur. I had just gotten divorced and I had moved into a small apartment in my hometown. The idea of looking beyond my kids high school years was so far off that it never entered into my mind. I had very little money, and most nights were spent occupied in virtual video game worlds, before falling asleep to wake up early and run. I was content enough in my job, having reached somewhat of a plateau, that I wasn’t seeking new opportunities at the time.
For a few years my life just “was”. I was earnestly seeking someone to share my life with, and I eventually found her and married her, but it took many years. As I reflect back on that time, I realized that despite my loneliness, I was actually quite content. Yet, in spite of my contentment, perhaps that time of rest was simply a preparation for the waves of change to come. Maybe in a few years, once all the changes in life have happened I’ll return to that state of contentment with the “now”.
Or perhaps I need to find more ways to put anticipation aside, and find avenues to experience day-to-day life more fully now. Many of the changes that I’m waiting for in my life won’t be rushed. Dates for upcoming transitions have already been set, and no matter how quickly I rush through each day, those dates won’t arrive any sooner. Maybe I need to take more time to read a book or two. Perhaps I need to adjust my work schedule so that my morning runs don’t feel so rushed. I think my goal for the next few weeks will be to see what I can do to be more fully present in today, and less driven to let the hours escape as fast as they can.