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.
First off, Happy New Year–may 2014 remind you over and over (like a nagging kid in the car) to stay in the moment. The moment is a great place to be. 2013 did its best to remind me of that.
And to help, try this little trick a friend gave me a few New Years back. Make a list of everything you want–deeply want. And here is the important part: Include the things you don’t yet have, but also include all of the things you already have, whether it’s an MFA in creative writing or a family that means more to you in the world than nearly everything else. Make the list, then let yourself rest in the now of it. It’s a wonderful centering thing to do.
Wow. Great idea, Sandra!! I’ll start on my list right now. I love that idea! I agree that it helps focus your intentions. I used to write a list like that many years ago, but got away from the habit. It’s time to return to it. Happy New Year! I’m not sorry to see 2013 pass.
I have become incredibly nostalgic. I think it’s a turning forty thing.
Years seem to have a theme to them, in the Native American fashion. 2010 was the ‘year of endings.’ 2012 the ‘year of rain.’ Don’t know what happened with 2011! 2013 was the ‘year of looking back.’
There were many occurrences which took me back to my childhood-the re-emergence of Agnetha with the impending forty year anniversary of Abba, the fiftieth anniversary of Doctor Who, featuring my Doctor Tom Baker. You know, all important stuff.
The death of author James Herbert.
More personally the thirtieth anniversary of my leaving primary school, the fifteenth of the death of my best friend, the tenth of my Dad. Last year many people associated personally to my childhood also passed. But I do remind myself not to get too caught up in looking back. I focus on the present, and glance to the horizon.
Hope that wasn’t too depressing-Happy New Year to you Linda!
Happy new year and 40th birthday, Andy. Wow, so many sad anniversaries. I can understand the need to pause and reflect. I would do that too, but I realize that I’ve been doing a lot of that lately–living in the past or the present, rather than now. But I hope 2014 is good for you, Andy.
And you too. Hope it brings you plenty of smiles. Starting with this one 🙂
You sound a lot like me! I tend to daydream & could do with living in the now a bit more. Happy New Year! 🙂
Happy New Year, Elaine!!! Do you usually make resolutions for a new year?
Happy New Year! I think this was the first time I ever really looked back on a year and looked forward. Didn’t make much of a difference to me. Still woke up to the toddler and had to get my act together in the morning.
Happy New Year, Charles. I hope this is a great year for you.
We call those Oreo Cows. 😉 I often remind myself to live in the ‘now’. I think being surrounded by dogs helps me with that one. They are totally focused on the now, immersed in the joy of each moment, not concerned about what’s going to happen tomorrow or what happened yesterday.
Best of luck in 2014. May you have many Moments of Nowness.
Thanks, Kathi. And as we passed that cow, I also thought of Oreo cookies. 🙂
I need to get a dog then or at least hang out with one more. Hope this year is good for you.
Happy New Year, Linda! And what a great resolution. For the last few months I’ve been focusing on enjoying the journey, rather than the destination–and being in the now is a huge part of that.The practice will definitely carry over into 2014.
Happy New Year, Stephanie! I’m glad you’re enjoying the journey. I need to be all about that this year!
Happy New Year, Linda! I’m so happy to hear you had a nice holiday with your family, those memories are priceless. I think the world would be a better place and people would be happier if we lived in the moment. When I was young, my mother always told me “Don’t wish your life away, time will pass fast enough.” If I’d only known then how right she was…
Happy New Year, Linda! When I was in elementary school, I used to ride my bike to a toy store a few blocks from where I lived. I told the store owner that I wanted to work in his store and I couldn’t wait until I was 16 and could work there. Just like Jill’s mother, he told me, “Don’t wish your life away.”
When I turned 16, I finally got my chance to work in the toy department of a discount department store. But I got fired after two months, along with a co-worker, for playing with the toys rather than helping customers or keeping the sales floor neat.
Wow, Lyn. I’m sorry about that. I probably would have been fired for the same thing. I thought toys were for playing with.
Happy New Year!
Happy New Year! Being in the now is such a critical part of living life. Like you, I spent a lot of time in the car over the holidays, and I tried to put the phone down and just relish driving through the quiet, snowy landscape. Life is too short to squander it. (And thank you for mentioning me in your post.)
Glad to do so. I’m glad you had a wonderful trip. And you have a novel coming out soon . . .
That nectar you drank during the holidays must have been potent and delicious! A drink we should all try, Linda! I like being in the now. No rushing, no regretting, just being. Here’s to a sweet tasting 2014!
I love Andra’s words too! 🙂
I would love to attend just one of your parties, Maria. Just once!! You know how to celebrate!
Linda, yes to living in the moment, being aware of all the tiny, daily miracles of life! I used to have a sign posted in my classroom that went something like this: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.” It’s cliched, I know, but I pointed to it every time one of my students wished they could skip ahead and just suddenly BE what they wanted to be, instead of living what they would become. Of course, I got lots of eye rolls, but that sign stayed there, year after year, reminding everyone, including me, how important each day is.
I’ll definitely keep that quote in mind. Today is a gift. And I’ve been missing that truth. Thanks for that quote.
Oh, and I’ve already told you, but I’ll say it here. Happy New Year! And those are the coolest cows I’ve ever seen!
I love those cows. I’m glad they exist. Happy New Year, Sharon!
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It’s so hard to live in the now — it does seem like 2013 ran by. Thanks for this fantastic reminder to cherish our lives now rather than just chasing after the future, something I tend to do more than I ought to. Happy New Year!
My pleasure, Christi. Happy New Year to you. This is one lesson I have to keep learning over and over.
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