lately i’ve been dwelling on this print.
well maybe not this actual print, but more so the sentiment behind its words. being present. in the moment i’m in. to taste, feel, smell, see, hear, everything around me. to climb inside that moment and make myself comfortable. to simply be content in this particular life juncture.
but i was yet again reminded of this concept of “being all there” when earlier this week i stumbled upon a quote from cold tangerines posted on a blog i regularly tune into for daily musings. then yesterday, the source of memory-jogging was a radio show bit from my morning commute.
it’s no accident that shauna niequist is yet again making an appearance on my blog. i mean, home-girl has the ability to reach inside my brain and put to paper what months of brainstorming have failed to do. and while i just purchased myself a copy of bittersweet, her follow-up book to cold tangerines, i’m kind of thinking a return visit to barnes & noble might be necessary to pick up a copy of her literary debut as well.
I have always, essentially, been waiting. Waiting to become something else, waiting to be that person I always thought I was on the verge of becoming, waiting for that life I thought I would have. In my head, I was always one step away. In high school, I was biding my time until I could become the college version of myself, the one my mind could see so clearly. In college, the post-college “adult” person was always looming in front of me, smarter, stronger, more organized. Then the married person, then the person I’d become when we have kids. For twenty years, literally, I have waited to become the thin version of myself, because that’s when life will really begin. And through all that waiting, here I am. My life is passing, day by day, and I am waiting for it to start. I am waiting for that time, that person, that event when my life will finally begin. I love movies about “The Big Moment” – the game or the performance or the wedding day or the record deal, the stories that split time with that key event, and everything is reframed, before it and after it, because it has changed everything. I have always wanted this movie-worthy event, something that will change everything and grab me out of this waiting game into the whirlwind in front of me. I cry and cry at these movies, because I am still waiting for my own big moment. I had visions of life as an adventure, a thing to be celebrated and experienced, but all I was doing was going to work and coming home, and that wasn’t what it looked like in the movies. John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” For me, life is what was happening while I was busy waiting for my big moment. I was ready for it and believed that the rest of my life would fade into the background, and that my big moment would carry me through life like a lifeboat. The Big Moment, unfortunately, is an urban myth. Some people have them, in a sense, when they win the Heisman or become the next American Idol. But even that football player or that singer is living a life made up of more than that one moment. Life is a collection of a million, billion moments, tiny little moments and choices, like a handful of luminous, glowing pearl. It takes so much time, and so much work, and those beads and moments are so small, and so much less fabulous and dramatic than the movies. But this is what I’m finding, in glimpses and flashes: this is it. This is it, in the best possible way. That thing I’m waiting for, that adventure, that movie-score-worthy experience unfolding gracefully. This is it. Normal, daily life ticking by on our streets and sidewalks, in our houses and apartments, in our beds and at our dinner tables, in our dreams and prayers and fights and secrets – this pedestrian life is the most precious thing any of use will ever experience… -Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines (via)
on my way to work yesterday morning, one of the dj’s on my favorite morning talk show read a poem entitled “the station” by robert j. hastings. he had stumbled upon it as he and his wife had been looking through old travel journals from the first days in their budding romantic relationship. ironically enough, this very poem is framed and sits atop the desk in my parents’ computer room, a previous anniversary gift from my mom to my father. and for that reason alone i would come to love this piece, but once i stopped to truly listen to hastings’ penned words as the dj read them over the airwaves, i was moved all the more.
TUCKED AWAY in our subconscious minds is an idyllic vision in which we see ourselves on a long journey that spans an entire continent. We’re traveling by train and, from the windows, we drink in the passing scenes of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at crossings, of cattle grazing in distant pastures, of smoke pouring from power plants, of row upon row upon row of cotton and corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of city skylines and village halls. But uppermost in our conscious minds is our final destination–for at a certain hour and on a given day, our train will finally pull into the station with bells ringing, flags waving, and bands playing. And once that day comes, so many wonderful dreams will come true. So restlessly, we pace the aisles and count the miles, peering ahead, waiting, waiting, waiting for the station. “Yes, when we reach the station, that will be it!” we promise ourselves. “When we’re eighteen. . . win that promotion. . . put the last kid through college. . . buy that 450SL Mercedes-Benz. . . have a nest egg for retirement!” From that day on we will all live happily ever after. Sooner or later, however, we must realize there is no station in this life, no one earthly place to arrive at once and for all. The journey is the joy. The station is an illusion–it constantly outdistances us. Yesterday’s a memory, tomorrow’s a dream. Yesterday belongs to a history, tomorrow belongs to God. Yesterday’s a fading sunset, tomorrow’s a faint sunrise. Only today is there light enough to love and live. So, gently close the door on yesterday and throw the key away. It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad, but rather regret over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who would rob us of today. “Relish the moment” is a good motto, especially when coupled with Psalm 118:24, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” So stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, swim more rivers, climb more mountains, kiss more babies, count more stars. Laugh more and cry less. Go barefoot oftener. Eat more ice cream. Ride more merry-go-rounds. Watch more sunsets. Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough. -“The Station,” Robert J. Hastings (via)
i wish i had some sort of eloquent way of tying these two pieces together and applying my own commentary based on personal life experience. and honestly, i probably could think of something pithy to say if given ample time to compose such a prose. but i think the sentiment has already been so perfectly captured by these two authors that i’d rather marinate on their words than construct a few of my own.
but i will say this:
i want to be as brave as shauna (should be easy enough, we do share the same name) and own up to my tendency to wait for the big moments in life. i want to be made fully aware of my tendency to wait on life to get to the good parts. screw waiting. the good parts are here, now. these are the good parts. these insignificant moments where life happens. a candid conversation with a stranger, the dinner date with a girlfriend, the successful shopping trip to trader joe’s (so maybe this last one is more just for yours truly). this “pedestrian life” as shauna refers to it as, is all the moment we need. for in the little, we find the big.
and i want to live out the counsel of hastings in his charge to no longer allow for regret and fear to rob me of today. i want to kiss more babies and watch more sunsets, to certainly laugh more and cry less (unless the crying is during an episode of parenthood because that doesn’t count seeing as i cry during every weekly episode). to live life as i go along.
oftentimes i look ten steps down the road, but neglect to glance down to admire the path currently beneath my feet. i hold down the fast forward button instead of leaving the movie to play. i think about my tomorrows, but neglect to invest in my todays. but i think it’s time i made a change. and i’m putting this here as a reminder when my tendency to will the station’s arrival into manifestation begins to creep back in.
that where ever i am today, i will be all there.