Over the past months I have lost several of my closest friends, two to cancer and one to a stroke. They were all under the age of sixty. Another one of my friends is only fifty-one and is confined to a wheelchair because of the crippling disease MS. They all had plans, dreams and hopes for the future that will never be realized.
I constantly struggle with balancing the need to plan for the future in case I live long enough and also realizing that I must enjoy the present moment. I recently came across some thoughts on this subject from Robert Hastings that I hope will help those of you who are dealing with the same balancing act as I am.
Tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic vision.@ We see ourselves on a long trip that spans the continent. We are traveling by train. Out the windows we drink in the passing scene of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at a crossing, of cattle grazing on a distant hillside, of smoke pouring from a power plant, of row upon row of corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of mountains and rolling hillsides, of city skylines and village halls.
But uppermost in our minds is the final destination. On a certain day, at a certain hour we will pull into the station. Bands will be playing and flags waving. Once we get there so many wonderful dreams will come true, and the pieces of our lives will fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle. How restlessly we pace the aisles, cursing the minutes for loitering waiting, waiting, waiting, for the station. When we reach the station that will be it! We cry, when I=m 18, when I buy a new 450SL Mercedes Benz, when I put my last kid through college, when I have paid off the mortgage, when I get that promotion, when I reach the age of retirement, I shall live happily ever after.
Sooner or later we must realize there is no station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly outdistances us.
Relish the moment is a good motto, especially when coupled with Psalm 188:24: AThis is the day which the Lord had made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
It isn't the burdens of today that drive people mad, it is the regrets over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who rob us of today.
So, stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot more often, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more, cry less. Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough.
Glenn Harmon © 2002