I hiked along the shore of a beautiful high mountain lake early in the morning. The cobalt blue waters surrounded by pine trees creeping to the shore. An Osprey soared overhead in the blue sky then splashed into the water grabbing breakfast in its talons. The wind gently rustled the mirrored water.
I thanked God for the four days we’d enjoyed with friends at their cabin.
Suddenly my blissful feelings were rudely interrupted as my brain jerked me back to reality. I thought about what awaited me after we drove home that night. A meeting tomorrow, writing my blog post, picking up my wife’s car from the repair shop. Ugh, normal life!
You know? Life’s reckoning for taking a few days off.
Instead of enjoying the beauty suddenly I was living 24 hours ahead.
I’ve struggled with this all my life. Perhaps you have too.
I’m in a wonderful moment and suddenly start thinking about what I need to accomplish tomorrow and next week. Or I start reliving some past experience I wished I could do over and differently.
Then I find myself missing out on the day I’m in. Then the next day looking back with regret for missing it.
A few weeks ago we traveled in Austria and Germany. I know, tough life but someone has to live it.
I found myself engrossed in and thoroughly enjoying each day.
I focused on what we were doing that day not looking forward to next or regretting anything about the previous.
I felt present with those I was with. Talking and laughing as we lingered over coffee or in my case a little too much German beer.
I woke up looking forward to each day and thankful for what it would bring.
Then I discovered going further and enjoying each day hour by hour, experience by experience. I felt really alive in a way I’ve rarely known.
When the trip ended, I felt tired physically but refreshed emotionally.
I wanted to bring this experience to my everyday life. Live it on work days as well as vacation.
A favorite scripture verse says, “This is the day the Lord has made so rejoice and be glad in it.”
I love that. And I don’t live it out very well. I need to constantly remind myself.
But I’ll tell you what I’m learning.
First, each morning focus on this day.
The past we can’t fix. The future will arrive tomorrow. So make the most of the day you have.
Second, try to do this moment by moment.
Enjoy the moment you’re in. In mere minutes it will all change. So enjoy the experience of the current moment.
Third, give thanks for everything you have now and for your day.
It will bring opportunities and challenges. Obvious blessings and perhaps some disguised ones. But give thanks for them all.
Fourth, empty your mind of worries. Fight them off.
This doesn’t come naturally for me. I grew up in a family that perfected worrying.
But I figure I’ve lived decades trying to be in control of the universe. So I’ve decided to let God have it back.
Fifth, focus on the people you’re with.
Enjoy, love, listen to and appreciate them. Hug and hold hands. Let them know you care.
Sixth, fully engage each day.
Turn off the internet and TV a lot more. Engage in your moments now.
Seventh, laugh a lot more.
Be silly sometimes. Tell jokes and laugh at the ones others tell. Lighten up.
And then perhaps you can enjoy the days and moments you have as I’m trying to do.
*Psalm 118: 24
Photo Credit: Shubhika Bharathwaj; Creative Commons