I homeschool my son. Some of my friends homeschool their children as well and we run a co-op together a few hours each week. This year we decided to formalize some things about the co-op so our children could take pride in their accomplishments. We let the kids vote on the school colors, a name for the school, and a school motto. We were engaged and surprised by the enthusiastic and thoughtful way our kiddos approached this exercise. The motto they chose is -
Learn form the past.
Live in the present.
Prepare for the future.
Pretty astute for a bunch of 6 to 9-year-olds. I was very proud. As we went over the motto on the first day of school, I watched them contemplate each of the sentences. And they could immediately understand how do you learn from the past and get ready for the future but it was a little harder for them to put into words what it meant to live in the present. As I was trying to help them comprehend it I realized that I had a hard time explaining - and an even harder time achieving this concept.
Living in the moment is not so easy for some of us. Dieter F. Uchtdorf, shares this story.
My wife, Harriet, and I love riding our bicycles. It is wonderful to get out and enjoy the beauties of nature. We have certain routes we like to bike, but we don’t pay too much attention to how far we go or how fast we travel in comparison with other riders.
However, occasionally I think we should be a bit more competitive. I even think we could get a better time or ride at a higher speed if only we pushed ourselves a little more. And then sometimes I even make the big mistake of mentioning this idea to my wonderful wife.
Her typical reaction to my suggestions of this nature is always very kind, very clear, and very direct. She smiles and says, “Dieter, it’s not a race; it’s a journey. Enjoy the moment.”
How right she is!
Sometimes in life we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to find joy in the journey. I don’t go cycling with my wife because I’m excited about finishing. I go because the experience of being with her is sweet and enjoyable.
Doesn’t it seem foolish to spoil sweet and joyful experiences because we are constantly anticipating the moment when they will end?
Do we listen to beautiful music waiting for the final note to fade before we allow ourselves to truly enjoy it? No. We listen and connect to the variations of melody, rhythm, and harmony throughout the composition.
Do we say our prayers with only the “amen” or the end in mind? Of course not. We pray to be close to our Heavenly Father, to receive His Spirit and feel His love.
We shouldn’t wait to be happy until we reach some future point, only to discover that happiness was already available—all the time! Life is not meant to be appreciated only in retrospect. “This is the day which the Lord hath made … ,” the Psalmist wrote. “Rejoice and be glad in it.”
I fear I spend too much time looking ahead to some future goal assuming I will be “happy” when I cross the finish line. On the other hand I lament past, unreached goals and wonder what my state might have been had I achieved my objective. Living in the past and the future I miss what is happening right now. I am not present for the joy of the moment. Happiness IS available all along the way. I, for one, want to do a better job of living in it.