Yesterday morning I sat outside on our back deck, coffee in one hand, pen in the other. Since it was Sunday, I had turned off my computer, cell phone, television, and quieted some of the external noise.
The internal noise, however, lingered.
I was anxious about a phone call I had Monday afternoon with a potential agent (a call that did not go as I would have hoped, I might add). I was anxious about the freelance writing jobs that are waiting on my to-do list. I was anxious about my husband’s all-consuming and unavoidable work commitments for the next several weeks. I was anxious about leading worship service in two weeks. And I was anxious about a million other little things – grocery shopping, appointments, errands that need to be finished before I head out of town later this week.
I sat outside on what was a perfectly peaceful, quiet and hazy Sunday morning and eagerly awaited – and hoped for – the swift passage of time.
My natural instinct during stressful and anxiety-filled times like this is to wish the time away, to will time to move more quickly so that I can arrive safely on the other side of this challenging stretch of days and weeks. My natural tendency is to focus on some future date when it will all be over. My natural inclination is to endure this period of time, to just survive.
But, really, what good is that?
Wishing the time away doesn’t make that illusive future date come any quicker. Focusing on survival doesn’t make the challenging times any less difficult. The harsh reality is that whatever my attitude is, the time will pass, it will move forward, and that is always a loss because once the time has passed, it is not coming back.
And for that reason alone, isn’t every day a day to be savored and celebrated?
I don’t think that we can disconnect from the future entirely, nor should we. Looking to a brighter future motivates us and propels us forward. It’s what keeps us from making irrational and selfish decisions. The anticipation of future enjoyment allows us to vicariously enjoy the future now. It’s what makes Christmas Eve so much more fun than Christmas morning.
But I don’t think that means that today – with all its anxieties and stress and challenges and waiting – is a day to be willed away, a day to be merely survived. Every day is a gift – even the stressful, harried, anxious, I-just-want-today-to-be-over days – simply because we are still living, breathing, loving. Maybe the bitter days should be celebrated just as much than the sweet ones because they give us the perspective we need to appreciate the halcyon days when they do come. Maybe some days we just need to try a little harder to find a reason to celebrate.
Time is a funny thing. It seems to morph and expand and contract, moving in the blink of a eye on some days and slogging along on others. But I think it has become critically important for me to stop willing time away, to stop waiting for the perfect and start celebrating the imperfect. Because isn’t every day a cause for celebration if for no other reason that we are here to experience it? Isn’t every day is a fireworks-on-the-Fourth-of-July kind of day in some small way? Isn’t every day is a day to bring out the fine china, wear sparkly bracelets, drink the expensive wine, give extra tight hugs, and say a few more “I love you’s?”
Today I am celebrating friends who sympathetically listened to me complain, my strong marriage, swimming on a hot summer day, peanut butter and chocolate chips, my last day as a thirty-five-year-old, and the invention of washable markers.
I can almost hear the fireworks now.
Do you tend to wish time away when stressed or anxious? How do you enjoy the present moment?
This post is also part of the weekly Photo Inspiration Challenge. Special thanks to Angie McMonigal Photography for her fabulous photos. Make sure to visit her website or facebook page. Her work is both stunning and, well, inspirational.