Years ago someone gave me a book.
It was called "The Precious Present."
And although I will admit that it was a tinge on the cheesy side, the story enclosed within it's cover has held a piece of my heart ever since.
It was about a man who was told all his life (by someone much older and much wiser) about a "precious present" he would some day receive. The man pined away endlessly wondering what that present would be. He was distracted always wondering how this most precious of presents would change his life for the better as had been promised.
This man wasn't able to take in life in all it's joy and glory because in the back of his mind he was always waiting. Waiting. Waiting for that "precious present" to emerge and make his life all that he hoped it would become.
In the end the man realizes that the "present" he has been anxiously awaiting is actually just exactly that: the present...the here and now.
The man realizes that the present is truly the best gift he could receive and although he wishes he had made that discovery earlier, he is caught up in the beauty of it all: the gift of really being right where he was when he was there. Not always wasting away waiting for the next big thing coming up or worrying about the past. The fact that he was alive, on earth, soaking in the moment of the present filled him with joy and wonder.
And because he accepted that gift his life was made whole.
As I have considered what I want my 2011 "word" to be I tried to think of a word that would incorporate all the words I wish I could weave into my life. I want so much to have my life be truly led by Above. I want to "love more" like the saying I have above my front door. I want to find a way to calm the whirlwind of stress that goes through me like a hurricane every day as I try to run from one thing to the next. I thought of "peace," "calm," "deliberate," "love" but for some reason nothing was quite eloquent enough to wrap around all that I want so much to become this year.
But the more I thought the more I realized that the word "present" could somehow encase my desires. At least how I have it situated in my mind it will work.
You see, I want so much to be "present" in my life. Sure, I love to hold on to the past and remember it so that it will influence my own "present," and of course I want to plan for the future and make goals and take steps to become that future woman I hope to some day become.
But just like the man in my book, I must realize that in order to fully soak in the past and be ready for the future...and in order to be joyous in the moment I must live in the present.
I want to be present with my children when they tell me about their day.
I want to be present when I pray...which I believe will help guide me to do and be the things my Father in Heaven wants me to.
I want to be present when I'm on a date with my husband and when I'm driving a carpool with my children. I want to leave my cell phone at home more often and turn off the computer and just "be."
Right now my mind can be in up to fifteen places at once. I'm wondering who will drive the carpool and how to help Claire with her homework and whether Dave might be able to stop by the store to grab something for dinner on the way home and who to text about the next Young Women thing on the agenda.
And although I know that multi-tasking in the life of a mother is a necessity, I want to somehow deliberately and conscientiously slow it down so I can be PRESENT when the most important people in my life are waiting for a chunk of my "present."
I know this won't miraculously happen without effort.
I know it will take work...planning and organization.
I know that it means some very good things will have to be put on the back-burner...I may be even worse (if you can imagine that) with responding to e-mails and maybe blog posts will be more sparse, our toilets may not sparkle all the time and the papers will still stack up endlessly. But life will still go on as I find a balance as I let some of the "good" things rest so that the very most important things will have my "present."
I know I've quoted Iris Krasnow like 45 times on this blog, but I sure love this quote: "Being There [is] an emotional and spiritual shift, of succumbing to Being Where You Are When You Are, and Being There as much as possible. Its about crouching on the floor and getting delirious over the praying mantis your son just caught instead of perusing a fax or filling the dishwasher while he is yelling for your attention and you distractedly say over your shoulder: 'Oh, honey, isn’t that a pretty bug.' It’s about being attuned enough to notice when your kid’s eyes shine so you can make your eyes shine back.”
I want to "be there" and make my eyes shine back when my children come to me with their eyes aglow. I want to to stop and really listen when Dave is telling me about his latest ideas. I want to be present with God who knows which direction is best in the myriad of paths that lay out before me.
Because, after all, I agree with the man in that story I read long ago, the present is the greatest present I could ever ask for. And I don't want it to slip away without fully being a part of it.