Honestly, as much as Amy and I are learning to enjoy every moment we have with Gabrielle (and our boys), if that's all we did, and we didn't think about and plan for our future ... well ... we wouldn't be much different than your average animal. Our ability as humans to forecast and anticipate is one of our most wonderful qualities.
I think, though, that this ability to think into the future comes with some serious pitfalls. I think that we sometimes get caught up in the belief that one day all this work and routine will result in some absolutely magical moment in our lives when everything's perfect. And I think our society reinforces this.
We work and study hard believing our holidays will make it all worth while. We plan our graduations, weddings, and children's weddings with the belief that event is somehow larger than life. We dream about the day when our kids will leave home and the magical Christmas dinners we'll have. And we contribute to retirement plans with the belief that someday we'll finally be "free!"
In all of these instances, it's as if the future event we're thinking about will be like a game-winning touchdown that will make everything better. Forever and ever.
But [sigh] time marches on. And then the next day comes.
We experience the letdown after high school graduation. The reality of our wedding bills and the honeymoon ending. The day back to work or school after holidays. The loneliness in our house when the kids leave. The reality that retirement isn't as golden as we thought it was, and we're not dancing with our spouse until our final days.
There are no touchdowns. Or are there?
Could every day be a touchdown? Or at least a chance to be one?
Maybe it's like the Zen Buddhists believe: heaven is life on earth, we just got to awaken to it.
Our ability to think about and plan for the future is truly amazing. But sometimes, I think, we need to remind ourselves that we could be enjoying the present moment instead of waiting for that time in the future when we hear a song or smell a smell that longingly reminds us of the moment we're presently in.
It's quite a paradox.