For the latter part of 2010, I heard a constant refrain: live in the moment. Be in the moment.
I heard it on Oprah, on The Dog Whisperer. I read it in books. In magazines. On blogs. Our Pastor preached on it one Sunday. I read it on Facebook status updates. I am pretty sure I even saw it on bumper stickers, in fortune cookies, in gang graffiti and one sky writer.
All that power of suggestion had me resolve that in 2011 I would at least figure out what that meant.
To me, "living in the moment" is actually not a good thing. Oh, I get that one doesn't want to live in the past. Either reveling in the glory days of college or stewing in the hurts of childhood. And I get that one doesn't want to live for the future, as if the current life if just the preliminaries and the real life will really start when one finishes college, changes career, gets married, has kids or buys a tropical island.
But to live in the moment is to deny all else. If I were living for today, I might go on a vacation I can't afford. Watch TV instead of make dinner. Do what I want, instead of what I need to do. Be selfish. Self indulgent.
I am a pathological planner. I research, I investigate, I weigh and I decide. Whether its vacation, a home improvement project, the kids activities or getting a puppy, it is all about the planning. To my narrow view, planning is the antithesis of being in the moment.
But I knew that was not what it was all about. So in 2011 my goal was to figure out what this means and why everyone was talking about it. Not really a resolution, more of a personal project.
I had not quite worked out how I was going to figure this out when we returned after the Christmas break to the chaos of school and work and everyday life. In all likelihood, I may not have thought much about my personal theme until I came up for air, around spring break.
But on the first day back at school, the community was in shock. One of the moms who had been, it seemed, successfully battling cancer, was suddenly losing her battle. Barring a miracle, she had days to live. Two days as it turned out.
Everyone was devastated at losing a friend and seeing three beautiful children lose their mother. It was and continues to be heartbreaking.
I remember this special person as energy and optimism personified. She was the kind of person who lit up a room with her smile and energy. She cared about people, and how she loved her family. I think she did live in the moment and made every encounter special.
And so it became clear: whatever I am doing, be there. Playing with the kids, means playing with the kids, not simultaneously checking email and trying to mentally sort out a problem at work. If I give my full attention to making dinner, putting in a little extra effort to make it healthy and appealing and maybe breaking out the nice napkins every now and again, good things will happen.
This is a challenge for a consummate multitasker, such as I am. I don't think I'll give up my habit of 5 balls in the air at a time. But where people are concerned, I will endeavor to be in the moment.