All my problems are in the past or the future. Very rarely are they in this exact moment. Because of this, it is easy to live in the past thinking about what I should have said or what I should have done. It is equally as easy to live in the future. What does the next week hold, or the next month, or the rest of my life? We often forget that the only moment we can actually live is the moment we are in. What is happening right now in front of us is all that is real. It is all that matters.
I remember I couldn’t wait to get out of high school and into the military. I was excited to go through Special Forces training; I couldn’t wait! Once on active duty, it was common for many (including myself at times) to count the days until we could go to the school we were planning on attending or our time on active duty would be over. Granted, there were some days we really wanted to end but there were many good ones too, but we couldn’t wait to move on to the real thing! When I was in college, every class was a challenge to get through to the next semester, the next year. I looked so forward to finishing my bachelor’s degree and getting to medical school. Once medical school started, the countdown started again. I was counting the classes or the rotations until graduation so I could start a residency. Residency came, and for 3 years I counted the months and the rotations until I could get out and start real life.
Has this ever happened to you? You can’t wait to finish school or finish a semester? Can’t wait to get a real job or finish a project? Really can’t wait to get married or have a baby? Then, once they are born, we can’t wait for them to start school and eventually for them to move out so we can have our life back! Funny thing is, once you have that thing you wanted so badly, or you have moved to the next part of your life you couldn’t wait to get to, we look back and reminisce. We say things like, “That was the best time of my life,” “Oh, if I could only go back,” or “I loved being there.” The very things we couldn’t wait to finish we look back on fondly as if they were so much better than the life we are living now even though we couldn’t wait to get to this one.
Looking back, if I could give one bit of advice, it would be to stop and enjoy the moment. I know that sounds trite and like I’m old. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy the moment because I really believe I did most of the time. On the other hand, if I could give 16-year-old me some advice, I would say, “Tim, enjoy every day along the journey. Build deep friendships. Don’t be in such a hurry to get to the next thing.” That might be good advice for me today as well. I am a planner. It is my tendency to plan and set goals and then set out hell-bent to accomplish them. I still love that. I still love to dream, and plan, and execute. However, I have learned (or am learning) to temper that with loving life exactly as it is right now, not hoping or wishing it were any different. I am learning to be content and ambitious.
Jim Rohn said, “The past is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.” How true is that? If we are not careful, the past can control us and keep us from living in the moment. We need to treat the past as a teacher. Some lessons were harder than others. Some teachers were unkind. Despite this, we need to learn those lessons and then live in the now. Create spectacular in this moment. That would be Living Every Minute. What would Living Every Minute look like? Living Every Minute is the idea that we are present now, in this moment, and squeezing the juice from it every minute. We do not pass up the chance to make the compliment or say thank you to those around us. We look for opportunities to be fun and playful as well as work hard and call it tight. There is still time to reminisce, to remember great times of our lives. There are certainly times for dreaming and planning and strategizing. I am not taking away from these. But when we are done journaling or remembering, when we are done planning and scheming, take time to be in the now. Live and love life for exactly what it is at this moment. Be grateful for all that God has blessed us with. Truly practice Living Every Minute.
Living Every Minute,