Thursday, December 5, 2013

"Living in the Moment" reprint

It seems appropriate to reprint a post I wrote during December 2011, which remains one of my most widely read articles, as a Christmas message:
The theme my church is using for the holiday season this year is "Christmas Present: Living In The Moment".  I have been thinking about this and how it applies to my life (which I am sure is what my church would have hoped for with all its' members).

The obvious double entendre here is that we all enjoy giving and receiving Christmas presents.  In this case, we all have the opportunity to both give and receive a wonderful gift  by making a conscious effort to "be present" for our families this Christmas and "live in the moment".  But first, we have to understand what this really means.

Living in the moment involves blocking out concerns, hopes, or fears related to events which have already occurred or that may happen in the future.  We can't change what has already happened, so why not (as Pumba so aptly suggests in The Lion King) "put our behind in the past".  We don't have to buy into the Hakuna Matata philosophy to do this.  It is unlikely that we will have "no worries for the rest of our days".  However, we have the option to not let real or imagined concerns about the future take the joy out of living today.

At the risk of sounding like I am "talking out of both sides of my mouth", for me this doesn't mean not taking steps to mitigate future problems.  In this respect, if we don't spend some time with our eyes on the horizon, we may miss opportunities to change the future in positive ways.  For me, the distinction is not letting these thoughts and activities OWN me.  I am not saying this is easy, but I am convinced that I owe it to my family and myself to make this a priority.  In fact, I will admit that right now I am not very good at it. 

In hindsight, I have not been good at this for a long time.  It is a skill that I (like many of us) think I lost somewhere between the innocence of childhood and the (in many cases) self-imposed challenges of adulthood.  Today, with the uncertainty of a future clouded by Parkinson's, the stakes have become higher.  I know if I spend too much time worrying about what could or might happen as the disease progresses, I run the risk of making my health worse today.

Which brings me back to the "Christmas Present" theme.  What better time could there be to commit to living in the moment?  With the magic of Christmas is in the air, why not focus on Christmas trees, decorating our homes inside and out, gatherings with friends, and memorable moments with family rather than concerns for the future?  I believe that I have the opportunity to make this holiday season, as well as the time that lies beyond, more pleasant and memorable for my family and me.  

This is starting to sound like "A Christmas Carol", and why not?  I find myself too often short-tempered and irritable with those who matter most to me.  I am told that this is a symptom of the disease for many, but I have to believe that I can change (or at least improve) if I put my mind to it and "keep Christmas in my heart".

For me, living in the moment is made much easier when I am focused on my faith.  I would not be writing this if I didn't have a tendency to revert to "self-reliance" and worrying about the future.  However, at the end of the day, I am secure and content in the belief that God will watch over my family and me and help us to deal with whatever life throws at us.   I hope that each of you will enjoy a wonderful holiday season that brings joy, hope, and renewal to you and your families.

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