When I was a kid and my family drove south in the summer to visit my grandmother, we’d stop at Reeves Boomland across the Illinois border in Charleston, Missouri. I would always buy a back scratcher. That or a wooden squirrel on a stand with a thermometer in its belly. Yeah, I had good taste as a kid.
Well, during my family’s trip this past Christmas, we stopped at Boomland. I purchased a back scratcher for old time’s sake (see above) and reminisced about the long drives we used to take in a hot car. This time, however, we were in a comfortable van in the middle of winter. And instead of me whining, “Are we there yet? I’m bored,” poking my brothers, or complaining that someone farted and pretending that person wasn’t me, everyone behaved nicely. A very pleasant 2,600-mile round-trip drive.
During the trip, I considered what I wanted to say about 2013. I’ve read a few retrosectives and looks ahead that I found very inspiring. For example, check out Andra Watkins’s post. Most of us consider the past and the future when approaching a new year. I started to write a post entitled, “Looking Back and Looking Forward.” But you know what? For much of my life, my eyes have been on the horizon ahead of or behind me.
When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to be 18. I thought life started then. After that, I couldn’t wait to be 21, and then 25 so that my car insurance rates would drop. But now that I’m older, I reminisce about the good ol’ days.
This Christmas, my family was together for the first time in years. We ate way too much, which made us all resolve to lose weight in 2014. But we were together. During the week that I spent with them, I chose to avoid looking at email or surfing the Net. Instead, I reveled in the now: just being with family and friends.
The gift of now is a gift I’ve squandered over the years. I don’t want to continue that cycle. Instead, I want to be fully present in the moment as I was this Christmas. One way I can do that is to listen intently, instead of thinking about what I’m going to say next or daydreaming about what could be. Another way is to savor the scenery.
In the car I played games on my phone. My brother would call out, “Look at that cow with the cummerbund” to remind me to look up and take notice of the passing scenery. (We actually passed a black cow with a large white stripe in the middle like a cummerbund. I have since learned that this breed of cow is a Belted Galloway. This cow would not look out of place in a bridal party.)
Life passes so quickly, doesn’t it? Look at how fast 2013 sped by. Yet there were so few moments, other than Christmas, where I can truly say I drank deeply of life’s nectar by being fully present in every situation. Living fully in the moment is a gift I’d like to continue giving to myself and others. This is not to say that I plan to bury my head in the sand about the future. I’ll give that some thought too. But for right now, I’m happy with the now.
Happy New Year!!! (And happy birthday to my nephew!)
Cow image from Wikipedia. New year image from christmasstockimages.com. Horizon from hdwallpapers.in/highway_to_horizon-wallpapers.html.