Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and they aren’t paying attention to a word you’re saying? Perhaps they’re looking behind you, surveying the crowd in an attempt to find someone more “exciting” to talk to? I have. More times than I can count.
I’ll be in the middle of a conversation with someone. They’ll ask me something like why I’m interested in a particular field of work or why I study French and seem like they want the detailed answer. After they ask the question, I’ll be about thirty seconds in explaining it when they’re either looking at their phone, staring in the opposite direction or saying hello to someone else. Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever done this to someone?
To have someone ignore you once you’ve invested your time in them is beyond frustrating, it is hurtful. Just as you are about to commit (whether it be by giving the detailed response or anything else), they’re out the door. They’re ready for the next step, because the present is boring.
I’m someone who’s always looking towards the future. When I start my homework, I’m daydreaming about something else or trying to find a dress online for the next wedding I have to go to. I spend the work week looking forward to the weekend. Does any of this remind you of anyone? Does it remind you of yourself?
I spend a lot of time wishing I’m somewhere different, that I’m someone different, or that I’m doing something different. This is a dangerous mindset, no? Looking forward to the next thing with a blatant disregard to the present…. almost like being in a conversation with someone and completely ignoring their answer.
Sometimes the present is difficult to deal with. We’re facing an exam, a new job, a disagreement with one of our friends and anything seems better than handling that reality. Daydreaming of a carefree future seems much more productive than having to study or deal with a tough day at work or the struggles in our lives. But the more we continue to rely on this, the more we begin to avoid living life.
You can point fingers and laugh at my cliché message, but ultimately you only get one life. And I honestly believe we all spend a lot of time just pushing through to the next weekend, and we forget to enjoy the moments in between. But friends, you could lose your life in a second, so we have to learn to not necessarily enjoy every second, but to live each one whole heartedly.
So how do we do that? What a broad question to answer. Live in the present always seems nearly impossible, but I think there are a few tricks that can actually work.
- Start by being present to others around you. Sometimes I spend days wishing I wasn’t in Kansas and that I was married with children and not going home every weekend to watch a movie with my parents on the weekends. But one day I’ll have my own family and my own responsibilities, so this freedom to do what I want with my family and friends is rare and also fleeting. Be all there.
- When you’re out to dinner, put the phones in the middle of the table (we’ve all heard this tip, so I won’t bother explaining it). Delete social media off your phone for a week and watch yourself become more detached.
- Make practical goals. Maybe you’ll stop complaining for a week or you’ll take a break from buying coffee. Then you and a friend can talk about the challenges and how much it helped (or maybe how annoying it was, it’s up to you). If you’ve had a crappy day or week, start writing down the things you’re grateful for. I have a few friends who fill out “gratitude calendars” where they write one thing they were grateful for that day and sometimes it can be as simple as “I’m blessed to have a snooze button.”
The point I’m trying to make is that time is fleeting, scarily so. This isn’t news to anyone. And it’s not easy; somedays we sit around waiting for the love of our life or our dream job. But you’ve been placed in this time and situation for a reason. Whether it be that God is trying to teach you something or you are supposed to be in someone’s life, you are meant to be where you are for a reason. I can’t tell you that reason. To be honest, I’m still trying to discover that reason for myself. But I can tell you the best way to discover it is to live here and now.