Image by F1RSTBORN via FlickrDriving home from the park today my five year old daughter posed this question, "Mommy, do we live in the past or the future?"
Smiling at her in the rear view mirror, I replied, "Neither, baby. We live in a time called the present."
Undeterred, she followed up. "But do some people live in the past?"
I pondered for a moment deciding whether my answer should be literal or metaphorical, and knowing neither would suffice, chose to go with honest, "Yes, baby, some people do live in the past."
"Do we live in the past, mommy?" The mixture of excitement and innocence in her voice was both amazing and humbling. It reminds me constantly how jaded I am.
"No. We don't live in the past. We live in the present."
Unfortunately, as much as I wish it was, my answer was not entirely true. There are many days I catch myself longing for the past or wishing for the future. This is not to say I sit around in my pajamas all day eating pints of Rocky Road looking through yearbooks and talking about how things were better in the good old days. However, I've been known to throw myself a pretty exclusive pity party while staring at a pair of jeans I no longer fit into (courtesy of Rocky Road), or longing for the days when my best friends didn't live 800 miles away, bills weren't piled up on the kitchen counter, kids weren't constantly clamoring for my attention, and if I went to the bathroom no one poked their little fingers under the door saying, "Whatcha doin?" the entire time. Heck, there are days I miss Ramen Noodles.
But more than that, I think I spend most of my life looking at what's next. From the age of seven, all I remember wanting to be is 16. Sixteen held something magical in my mind, although I don't recall anymore quite what it might have been. I dressed up pretending to be 16, wrote stories and songs about what I would do when I was 16, and admired girls lucky enough to live that dream. Finally my sixteenth birthday came and I don't think I relished it for even a minute because by that time, all I wanted to do was turn 18 so I could leave my hometown and head off to college. And so it went. In college my focus turned to graduating and getting a job so I could stop eating Ramen Noodles every day. Of course my entire single life focused on getting married, which I did, and no sooner did we walk down the aisle than people started asking, "When are you kids going to have a baby?" Then you are waiting for the pregnancy to be over, waiting for the baby to walk, for her first word, for her to be potty trained (oh dear lord, please!), for her to go to kindergarten, and for her to teach you important lessons . . .
Like mommy, stop waiting, and just enjoy this beautiful day with me at the park. Remember, we don't live in the past. We don't live in the future. We live right now.
This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. ~Ps 118:24