Thursday, December 2, 2010

Enjoying the Sixth Grade

The drive was one of those up by 3 and on the road before 4 AM affairs signaling the end of our week of Thanksgiving holiday travels.  As we pulled away from town, lights faded into darkness, the ride was smooth, and the hum of the tires on the pavement seemed more like stillness than noise.  While I settled in for two hours of driving it looked like Susan was hoping to sleep the trip away.

There was something refreshing about those early miles that caught my attention.  Those quiet moments were the first ones I’d really known all week.  It was the first time I had really taken to soak in the silence – to stop thinking about what was coming next long enough to enjoy what was happening now.

Is it any wonder?  Even something as simple as packing should have been a clue.  I had packed for three unique segments of the trip – Thanksgiving on the road with the family, a four day “get-away” with Susan, and then our return for a visit with my folks and my sister.  This last segment included setting up my mobile office and working for a full day before this early morning return home.  While I enjoyed each part of this trip, I felt my constant focus on what was coming next had caused me to miss too much of the “now.”

It felt a little like back in sixth grade when they repeatedly told us how much harder things would be in the seventh grade.  If we didn't knuckle down today, we might not be able to do the seventh grade work.  In the seventh grade we heard that we had to prepare for the eighth grade.  And yes, the eighth grade was really just preparation for high school – which, of course, was intended to prepare us for college and/or life in general.

Admittedly, this advice carried a fair amount of scare tactic aimed at getting, and keeping us focused on our studies.  It also served to reinforce a message we had subtly been learning all our lives – the focus of today is to prepare for tomorrow.

Planning is good – even biblical.  Proverbs includes multiple admonitions toward good planning.  My own previous post highlighted the value of being prepared.  But during my drive home it became clear that we can't afford to focus only on tomorrow at the expense of today.

The good news is, I have a chance for a do-over.  Christmas will be here in just a few short weeks.  We already have plans for three different events with family – one each on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the day after.  My goal is to be mindful of each moment, to be fully present in that moment.  This time I want to enjoy being in the sixth grade and face the seventh grade when it comes – not a moment before.

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