Everyone who hears that we have a three-year-old and a one-year-old tells us that “they grow up so quickly” and to “take time to enjoy these moments” because they will be gone before we know it. That makes sense; it’s truly shocking how life seems to speed up as we get older. And those of you who know me know that I’m super intentional about everything, and keep trying to learn how to make the most of these days and live life to the full.
I don’t have a magic solution, but I feel like I’ve caught a glimpse of what might help slow things down – at least experientially. We all understand that life will continue to accelerate if we don’t do anything differently, if we just allow ourselves to be swept up and pushed forward by the tide. We also realize that one day we will blink, and it realize that it’s all over. I’m not scared of death, as the lessons I’ve learned walking with the Lord have convinced me that our days on earth are like a passing shadow. Frankly, I think about my mortality every single day, and those thoughts remind me to recalibrate and course-correct often.
With that in mind, the only thing I’ve stumbled upon that seems to be helping is a reminder I’ve been internally repeating to myself:
‘Be fully present.’
I’ve been guilty in the past of constantly being distracted, always preoccupied with the next item on my to-do list. This is because it allows me to feel a measure of control over life, which temporarily alleviates fears that I have about wasting it, or it going sideways at any moment. I’ve really recognized this dysfunction only recently, and I would say that 2020 is the first year where I feel like I’ve been truly giving my family the best of my attention when we’re together.
I’ve been guilty in the past of constantly being distracted, always preoccupied with the next item on my to-do list. This is because it allows me to feel a measure of control over life, which temporarily alleviates fears that I have about wasting it, or it going sideways at any moment.
For example, I now relish the time I get to read books to Maya and Ravi. They sit on my lap, and we flip through pages, and I talk with funny accents, and kiss them on their heads. Part of me used to think: ‘What is the point of this? Isn’t reading to them just like them watching a show, but with the TV sharing the story instead of my own voice?’
But now I have come to the conclusion that life is best lived when you’re fully in the moment – when your mind and heart are right where you are physically (your body). When everything is in alignment. I also am enjoying taking them to playgrounds in our neighborhood or around our town. And to the neighborhood pool. I feel fully present there – mind, heart, and body. And so while we cannot decelerate the advance of time, being fully present seems to me the very best way to live each day.
What is the reason that I work so hard at my job, or to take care of household matters? So that I have more time to enjoy life with my family down the road. But how is enjoying life later with my family any better than enjoying life with my family now? It’s not. It’s foolishness.
It feels silly to say that I have previously struggled with doing these types of things. In the past, I rather would have Rachel take them so I can take care of more “weighty” responsibilities related to my job or the household. But what is the reason that I work so hard at my job, or to take care of household matters? So that I have more time to enjoy life with my family down the road. But how is enjoying life later with my family any better than enjoying life with my family now? It’s not. It’s foolishness. Especially because these growing-up years are so unique and so very precious.
I don’t have this mastered, and I still feel an internal struggle and pull towards more measurable forms of productivity. But I know it’s what I want to do. And as I keep doing it, it will become easier. Honestly, every time I do it I feel much less regret and much more thankfulness. I encourage you to remind yourself to “be fully present” when you’re with your loved ones, and keep doing it until it becomes easier. I’m convinced this is essential to a life well-lived.
Image source: https://unsplash.com/@aronvisuals