Monday, June 2, 2008

In the Moment

People forward all sorts of e-mails to me: jokes, cartoons, “chain letters” (forward this or die), words of inspiration (if I’d known what having a teenager was going to be like, I’d have saved the anesthesia for later) and some Nigerians have even written to say they’ll share their wealth if only I’ll send a check first.

It’s rare that I think about these messages longer than it takes to skim and delete them. But a recent e-mail containing the words of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Anna Quindlen was a significant exception. In it, she expressed regret that:

“I did not live in the moment enough.”

Although Quindlen was addressing parenting and how she often was in a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, etc., I think her words have wider application.

“I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less,” she wrote. I agree. We often are too busy thinking about the “what’s next” instead of enjoying the “what’s now.”

There’s a lot going on in my own life right now – a college graduation, high school graduation, husband celebrating a milestone birthday, and a deadline to read 113 short stories as a judge for the crime fiction contest I was so honored to win last year. In addition, there are graduation parties and gifts to buy for friends and relatives PLUS cooking for various events PLUS my mother breaking a bone and possibly two in a fall (at Rehab, no less) PLUS having a job where people expect me to actually show up.

I’m grateful that many of these are happy things. Nonetheless, I am a bit overwhelmed. It's a struggle to repeat the mantra “live in the moment” to stop my subconscious from making lists. But it’s helped me truly “be present” during these life passages.

As a fiction writer, it’s necessary to be “in the moment” to keep writing. If you think too much about the mechanics of getting “on to the next thing,” the story suffers.

Maybe it’s the same with real life. If you don’t live in the moment, your own “story” suffers in the end.

1 comment:

A Little Guitar said...

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