I have a lot on my mind:
How best to support this family; how to divide my time between all that I could (and should) be doing; decisions regarding where to live (do I stay in my big home when there will just be my daughter and I?), etc.
But right now I am in San Francisco, on a trip that our family planned over two years ago, as a gathering of ALL the children after one son returned from Argentina on his two-year church mission, and before the younger one leaves to Taiwan for his.
One daughter flew in from her home in Washington, DC; another flew in with her husband and two children from Maryland; another with her husband and one daughter drove to California from Boise, and another flew in with her husband from Logan, Utah where they are living. The rest of us drove over from Utah, and we all converged here on Monday in a spacious renovated San Francisco home near the famous “Painted Ladies” homes.
We’ve been to the California Academy of the Sciences; we went to the Aquarium on the Bay (SO fascinating!), we took the tour to Alcatraz, and we strolled Fisherman’s Wharf and shared some of those famous fish and chips.
Before we left for this trip, I knew I’d need to do some business while here. I had decided to fit in the necessary business in the early morning hours or late at night, and not to let work concerns consume my thoughts while I would be with the family. This is the first time we’ve all been together in over three years, and will be the last time for at least two years that it will happen. I want to take advantage of every single moment with my children and grandchildren that I can.
I have noticed, though, that nagging thoughts tend to creep into my mind, and I begin to withdraw mentally from the family, and I have to consciously push those thoughts out and remind myself to be here! Each moment is precious, and worrying about work and the future only robs the present of its joy.
That is one thing that the death of a loved one taught me. We really only have this day, this moment, to live! After my husband died, I was plagued with “if only I had …” thoughts. I realized there were so many times I could have been more present, and that could have changed so many things.
Each time I allow a worry about the future, or a regret about the past, to remove me from being fully engaged in the present moment and what my child or grandchild or another person is saying or doing. I lose that moment. I lose it, and the person I could have been interacting with notices my distance, and I lose a chance to connect with them. Those are tragic losses!
I have to keep reminding myself of a phrase I’ve often heard:
“Seize the moment.”
If I think of each moment as the precious, fleeting opportunity that it is, and focus on being present in it, “seizing” it, I find so much joy! I can see my children or grandchildren looking into my eyes to see if I’m really there, and when I am, we connect! We have so much more fun, and I get involved in what they are doing and saying, and it becomes a golden moment – and creates a memory. The more of those I can fit into life, the more full and meaningful and joyous my life is.
So learn from my mistakes! When you have a lot on your mind, and thoughts of worry about the future prevent you from being fully present with your loved ones, stop! Don’t let them determine what you do! Tell those thoughts that you WILL deal with the issue they concern, but their time is not now. Then give yourself completely to the loved one you are with. Focus your mind on them and on what they are saying and doing. Listen with all of your attention. Enjoy them, and notice all the little things about them that make them unique and loveable.
As you do, you will have learned something that has taken me much too long to learn, and something that many people never learn, and because of that, you will find more happiness than you ever could before. And you will have learned how to make the best of each minute of life you have.
You will have learned to “seize the moment”!
Hoping you find healing as you do so,