Slices of Life: Give yourself a gift of here and now
We are all living just 10 years away from a world we can hardly imagine.
I'm not talking about technology, global warming or advances in medical science. I'm talking in the personal sense. For most of us, our lives will be completely different 10 years from now. Just like they were probably completely different 10 years ago.
Think about it.
Where were you 10 years ago? What were you doing? What thoughts occupied your time? What did your days look like?
I was changing diapers and probably pregnant, but that's just me. I'm happy to report that all my kids are now potty trained and I am no longer preoccupied with my due date. Some changes are for the better.
Ten years before that, I didn't yet know the rigors of parenthood firsthand, and was probably living what I now would consider a fairly self-centered life. This means I got to eat when I wanted, sleep when I wanted and watch what I wanted on TV.
These days, I'm in what I call the "taxi season" of life. I spend a lot of my time driving other people around. Most of them are the people I gave birth to. They've since grown into kids who need rides to school, practice, games and lessons.
Ten years from now, they'll have their own driver's licenses and won't need my taxi services anymore. Some of them will probably be living in houses of their own. My son's voices will have changed, and they'll probably all be taller than me.
Ten years beyond that they may be driving me around, but I'm not ready to go there just yet — even in my imagination. Going too far into the future feels uncomfortable and unsure. There are just too many what ifs.
So, for the most part, we live in the moment. Of course we have to think long term when it comes to things like life insurance and retirement plans, but otherwise, our minds stay firmly planted in the here and now. When you are pushing a baby stroller or changing a diaper, it's hard to imagine that the day will come when the baby will walk and take care of his poop all by himself, let alone a day when that same baby may be pushing you.
Still, nothing in life is permanent. Day by day, sometimes hour by hour, things change and evolve. The kids learn to feed themselves Cheerios. Pretty soon, they are pressing the buttons on the microwave and before you know it they can cook a pretty mean frozen pizza. Some of them never learn to flush the toilet, but never mind the minor details.
As the years progress, we simply carry on. We start life out by being carried. We grow older and independent, carrying a tune as we drive around town in our first car. We carry a large backpack in college. After college graduation and marriage (if everything goes in order), we find ourselves carrying a baby or two.
Our babies grow and we carry their hockey or dance equipment. They grow some more and we might have to carry a balance on their college tuition. Finally life comes full circle and we get to carry our grandbabies.
Most of us don't think about the big picture like that. I know I don't. I'm much more likely to focus on current events: The bills I need to pay, the upcoming choir concert, returning a phone call from a friend and the fact that we're out of milk again. Heck, I find it hard to focus on more than just one day on the calendar sometimes.
That's taking life in the here and now to the extreme.
I heard a saying once that went something like this: "Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why they call it the present."
Those are probably pretty good words to live by. Staying in the moment keeps us grounded. It allows us the luxury of feeling like now will last forever. That, truly, is a gift.
Pretty simple, really, but most of the more profound things in life usually are.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.