Stoic Saturday: Don’t Wait for Another Instant

When you have kids it becomes easy to fall into the trap of planning ahead. It is easy to think of the next milestone or how much easier life will be once they are out of diapers. While planning can be wise and often necessary, the future should not be your focus – this moment should be.

Each of us lives only now. This brief instant.

When I was in my 20’s and childless I thought life was moving fast. I distinctly remember turning 27 and thinking “how can I be this close to 30 already? I was just 17.” Fool. Some say college is the fastest four years of their life. My daughter is four right now, and while I don’t have a calendar in front of me at the moment I am fairly certain she was only born about a week and half ago. This phase, this season of life, this moment you’re in really is an instant. So are you in it, or are you just waiting for it to pass?

While you wait for the next thing, the better thing, the different thing – you’re missing the only thing. I hate to break it to you, but the life you’re living is the only one you’ll get. So what are you waiting for? For more of it to be gone? Look at your kids. This is the only time they will be this little. Is your kid asking for one more book before bedtime a burden, or a passing moment that will never come back? Is a kid insisting to be pushed on the swing more, and more, and more boring? Well maybe, but but in the scope of life it is an instant. Blink your eyes and they won’t need you to push anymore. Blink again and they won’t even want to go to the park with you anymore.

I know I fall into looking ahead too much. When the kids are a little bigger we can go camping. One more year and we won’t have to pay for day care anymore. Three more years and we’ll only have one school to drop our kids off at. It is good to put your mind to creating a plan for what might happen in the future, but it can’t take up residence there. I know I need to work on not just enjoying the moment, but truly being present in the moment. The future will be here. Probably quicker than I think. What matters more is what actually is here now.

Tomorrow isn’t promised to anybody. That is not to say you should live irresponsibly, with no regard for consequences. But rather to live intentionally, with purpose for the present. If you don’t get a tomorrow, and today is your last day, would you be happy with the way you lived the day? With how you lived each day up to this point? Or do you look back at a series of days there spent waiting for them to pass? Time will pass all on its own, it doesn’t need your help. But your life won’t be lived in a way that matters unless you put the effort in to each moment as it comes.

Literally as I was writing this, I stopped to go read a book with my six year-old daughter. She wanted us to take turns reading every other page of “The Pigeon Goes to School.” If there was ever a time to try to rush the moment, it was waiting her to work through the word “alphabet.” But I let her figure it out, I helped her when she needed it, and I was present in the moment. I’m not going to lie, it took effort. But if I can stay present through soft c’s and silent l’s, the rest should be easy. Right?

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