Monday, January 5, 2015

Strange Advice

Random pic to appreciate.
Kitten helping me fold laundry!
I saw it on Facebook, where you can see pretty much everything there is to see if you wait and scroll long enough. This crazy piece of help was about keeping resolutions.

The advice--I have to paraphrase because I can't remember it, and it's so odd I won't be looking it up to make sure I get it right. Brace yourself. Here it is:

You can do it, if you stop living in the present and focus on the future.

I reel even as I write that because I'm thinking about what it means. Throw away the present, and focus on the point in time you cannot control? I probably should have read the whole article, but how could I? I've spent years trying not to speed time up just so I can get to the next thing.

When my son was almost six, and my daughter was an infant, I stopped them on our daily walk at a point on a hill, where we could see Pearl Harbor from our neighborhood. We were about to move back to the mainland, and my son, who'd spent most of his life in Hawaii by then, was sorry to go. I asked him to remember as hard as he could, and maybe this moment, this piece of his present would stick in his memory and he could look back and live in it for a second for the rest of his life.

Appreciating what I have and where I am is a theme with me, and a theme in my stories. I like control. I always wish I had more of it, but in a secret, that's really bad for you kind of way. What I really want is to live in each second of every minute I have.

I have a book out!
I want those moments--the crazy way my husband turns red while he's laughing uncontrollably at something only he will ever find funny. My son's voice--he's a slow-talking hipster who makes me think harder. The surprising squeeze of of joy I feel every time I see my daughter's big, infectious smile, and I know--she's ours. We never expected to have her, but she's ours. Even the way my swaggering, orange cat bolts from behind cover to wrap himself around my shins because now is the perfect time for a game of chase.

I'm greedy for all those moments. I'm not ignoring the happiness, or the ones that might be sad or angry or even hurtful for any kind of future.

Here's some advice. Live in your right now. It's a gift no one else in the whole, wide world receives.

What's your theme? Give me a piece of wisdom you've learned, or maybe that you're still trying to learn. Even if it's just--don't get so wound up about some random Facebook headline. :-)




26 comments:

  1. I love the pic of your cat, Anna! Our dogs have a preference for "folding" socks . . . if they can get their paws on them.

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    1. LOL, Kate! Funny the things our animals find irresistible! Georgie loves socks, too. I find them in odd places, along with my watch and my fitbit, and my hair ties. :-)

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  2. I love the picture, too, and really love the post, too. I suppose focusing on the future is good if you have big goals that are going to take some time to reach, but if you miss the Right Now while you're at it, what good is it?

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    1. I completely agree with you, Liz. I can see maybe visualizing what the goal will look like when it's completed, but what do we learn if we're busy ignoring our Right Now?

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  3. Beautiful ideas, Anna, and beautiful photos, too! I'm more a 'choose a word for the year' type of gal. This year: Decisiveness. I'm hoping it'll help reduce uncertainty in every area of my life!

    I'm curious: Did your son ever speak of visualizing that moment before you left Hawaii? :-)

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    1. Loree, I was wondering the same thing as I wrote that. I need to ask him. Obviously, it stuck in my mind. I've been thinking about your word, Decisiveness. I'm a world-class ditherer, but I'm trying hard to make a few decisions without my usual what if this, and what if that.

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  4. Food for thought certainly. I have a sister-in-law who once said to me, because I was always reminiscing, to: "stop living in the past". She said she only lived for the day she was in at the moment. I do think that makes more sense than thinking about what's ahead when like you said, we have no control. Unless they mean a person should make short-term goals and strive for them. Hm...

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    1. And I do think there's something to be said for balance, too, Roz. This struck a nerve because I can get overly focused on the future, and I don't want to be like that, when time is flying by, but I definitely think the past and the present make us what we're going to be for that future. Neglecting either feels like a mistake.

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  5. My theme is balance - which I really need since I just get so out of balance while I'm writing.

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    1. You and me both, girly! I hate that--wish I were better at keeping all the balls in the air at one time.

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  6. I try to live in the moment. The future often seems like a bunch of worries or hopes that may or may not come to fruition. Never had any luck with a cat folding my laundry.

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    1. Marion, exactly! What on earth can you do to direct the future? LOL on the cat vs. the laundry. I had to part Georgie, the kitten from my shirt. He was not pleased--had apparently not finished his work!

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  7. I really like your post Anna. I think it's important to capture the moment you're in because you can never get it back. And besides, tomorrow isn't promised to any of us really so why live for the future? I've tried to slow down and treasure the little things....not take things for granted. Thanks for reminding me to do that.
    Is that Georgie the cat?! Lol.

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    1. Totally agree with your feelings, Laurie. There's joy to be found in appreciation! And that is Georgie the cat! Isn't he just a little crazy looking? :-)

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  9. Anna - I love this post! The issue is pretty deep. I think when you're young, you can afford to give more thought to how your decisions affect your future because that's sensible. But from maybe middle years on, it's best to be in the moment. And I don't think you have to abandon all thoughts of the past. If life has given you great memories - like Roz's - I think it's good to hold those with you to enrich the present. And if it's at all possible - don't worry! It accomplishes nothing. Trust, instead.

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    1. You got to the point better than I did, Muriel. And again, I agree with you on balancing all of our time, but I really need to take your advice on worrying. Extremely hard to manage.

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  10. I can't spell this morning.
    Just goes to show how wrong Facebook can be. I'm a live in the present type gal, too. The future causes anxiety, the past, too much sadness. My theme for this year is to be careful about biting off more than I can chew. It's a bad habit I have.

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    1. Patricia, I wonder if it's possible to stop biting off more than we can chew. I love old movies--from the 30s and 40s, and I hear those characters talking about how life is so much faster in "modern times." It's comforting that each modern time seems to be filling up with too much to do. But taking on the appropriate amount of too much is great advice!

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  11. Anna....great, thought-provoking post. I am definitely a live in the moment type of person--or at least I strive to be. As a couple others mentioned, too much focus on the future causes me anxiety. It truly is the little things in life that make me happy and you have to pay attention to the moment so you can appreciate them, right? I like the concept that became popular in the psychology world some years back--if you act happy, then you will be happy. Obviously, this is impossible sometimes when a situation is simply too overwhelming, but I really think it helps because our reactions to situations are really the only thing we CAN control!!

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    1. I agree with you, Carol. Worrying about the future is definitely a problem I've had--and it definitely gets you nowhere. A few years ago, we had some hard family times--you know how it is when the generations begin to advance. There came a moment when choosing to be happy was the only possible response--and it did help. If you keep trying to be happy, some happiness will come.

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  12. So, does your son remember the moment?

    I'm so busy that I'm not fully appreciating the present, and that is something that has to stop. We had lights on our Christmas tree. We never turned them on. Foul!

    As for the past, it's the blanket that warms the present. When I close my eyes, I can still feel my son's one month old body nestled in the crook of my arm, and know that for all the world, the best thing is love.

    Maybe that's why we write it.

    Lost your post. Made me think this cold Arizona morning.

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  13. Pam, your past as a blanket that warms the present is beautiful. And perfect. That's exactly the way it feels.

    About my boy's memory, I don't know. I need to ask him about that. I am sad you missed colorful Christmas tree lights. I love lights, no matter what time of the year it is. I'd leave them up and on all year long.

    Envying you your cold, Arizona morning. I didn't know mornings came cold in Arizona. We've been having spring-like weather, though the forecasters keep promising more seasonable temps. I'm giving up hope and planning a move to Iceland!

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  14. Great advice! I think too many people don't live in the present and they miss what's right in front of them while waiting for some "thing" in the future. Be present. xoxo

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    1. Ditto to your really wise advice, Amy!

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  15. Wonderful post. I work hard on balance. But my theme is mostly, "Enjoy." Enjoy the moment, the day, the week, the people around me. I guess that's what happens when you are over sixty!

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