I'm a third of the way through a beautifully written book called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. If I highlighted the profound statements that struck me on the pages, every other sentence would be glowing.
Instead of listing a thousand things the author wanted to do before she died, she began daily pursuing hard after gratitude in living life. Listing her gifts became a transforming exercise in finding joy. The list---the one thousand gifts---gave her a name for each of her blessings. Naming her gifts resulted in her living fully present in the moment before her.
So, I've been on a mission to live in the moment.
To fully embrace whatever is before me. To make my own list of a thousand gifts.
Because the author naming her one thousand gifts doesn't help me. I need to name my own.
"Wherever you are--be all there," Voskamp pens. Sometimes, I'm not sure I'm ever fully anywhere. I get stuck half-way between here and there...in a hurry to be both places. Looking behind to make sure I've captured the memory, looking ahead to make sure I prepare for the memory, but in the process missing the moment right in front of me.
So, I've been fighting to be fully present the last couple months.
Tonight was no different.
Live in the moment. Live in the moment. Live in the moment.
Tonight...this time...I'm going to be fully here all night, I had told myself.
Fully feeling. Fully attentive. Fully embracing.
Ten minutes later I began to cave. I might have put too much pressure on the living fully thing. Evening is not the easiest time period and all wise people know commitments are easily broken when you are tired, hungry, and stressed. Isn't that Avoiding Temptation 101? Plus, the dreaded mealtime and the never-ending bedtime were quickly approaching and the thought of that time period is enough to suck whatever energy anyone has possibly conserved through the day right out the window.
The evening time is for "Advanced Moment" enjoyers.
"Moment Enjoying for Dummies" is better practiced during easier times of day such as nap time.
Trust me on this one.
Being fully present at night is not for the faint of heart.
But I really, really, really tried.
I tried to live in each moment.
Finally, laughter---hysterical, "Mom's barely hanging on" laughter---overcame me.
I'm trying to live in the moment, Lord, but I'm confused.
WHICH MOMENT IS IT I'M SUPPOSED TO LIVE IN?
There's like FIVE moments going on right now.
Is it possible that some things you should just tune out?
Should I fully be present and feel the bouncing of the teenager's soccer ball against the front door while focusing on the bizarre, yet perfectly in-tune song he's singing about "sideburns on his face." A) The song doesn't rhyme. B) The song is lame and you don't have sideburns anyway. C) For the hundred billionth time, STOP BOUNCING THE BALL.
The slip from reality begins.
Or should I devote all my attention to the carefully detailed description and re-enactment including sound effects of the second son's dream that he was trapped in a video game and responsible for saving the world. A) Pretty creative for a dream. B) How can you possibly remember so many details about a dream that I'm sure only lasted a couple minutes? C) Yes, I think it would be cool if you learned to use a bow and arrow.
I'm growing numb.
Then there's the kitchen chaos. Should I continue helping the middle daughter gather ingredients for a new recipe she wants to try knowing that the mess it will create will far outweigh the nutritional value? A) Nutrition has never been my strong point so why start worrying about it tonight? B) Cinnamon rolls for dinner sound fabulous. C) "Add some extra frosting on mine, Baby."
I mentally check out further.
There's spinning. Twirling and pirouetting of the fourth daughter's fancy feet as she twirls and whirls around and around and around through the kitchen, up the stairs, under the bouncing soccer ball, over the couch---I think I'm dizzy watching her and plus, she's wearing little brother's Spiderman underoos. A) Love the spins and the flowing hair. B) Please don't knock that frosting out of your sister's hands. C) Why are you wearing boys' underwear to bed when you have an entire drawer of princess jammies?
This last ditch effort to live in the moment proves to be too much.
The toddler with the broken clavicle is jumping continuously off the couch with a Batman cape flowing behind, a sword shoved down the back of his pants, and toys peeking out of his sling. A) When this goes poorly, which ER should we visit this time? B) Please adjust the mask so you can actually see where you are jumping. C) When did your sling become a purse?
Numbing complete. Mentally, I officially leave reality
Frankly, I think my brain might implode if I stay focused any longer.
There's a brief reprieve to my mental vacation. The 5-ring circus merged all of their acts together for a spontaneous lip sync of "Call Me, Maybe." I soaked that up for about 3 minutes. Energized by the fact that they are all living in the same moment, I even danced around with them and did my own karaoke, but they don't think I'm as cool as I think they should think I am, so I received the rejection and plopped on a stool to watch. As soon as the IPOD switched songs and a beautiful Christian hymn played, the five different moments resumed and I was left to squint my eyes at this chaotic scene of our family that never seems to offer one moment at a time on which to focus.
So I succumb once again. I succumb to my default coping mechanism.
I tune it all out.
I do exactly what I'm fighting hard not to do.
Flee the moment.
In my mind, I'm on a sandless beach, feeling the shark-free waves nip at my toes, and sipping a Diet Coke. But the funny thing is that this time, my kids were all with me...when I mentally checked out, I actually took my children with me. I won't lie...they were sitting quietly on the beach. Gazing at me in complete adoration. No bouncing balls or twirling; no kitchen mess or detailed discussion. But they were all still present. I guess I created my own moment to enjoy where everyone was doing exactly what I wanted them to be doing. Definitely not reality...
Tonight I stayed engaged for 10 minutes.
Last week, it was only 9 1/2.
Next week, it might be 11 minutes.
Someday, I'll read this---when my house is quiet---and I'll long for nights like tonight.
I'll long for the nights when there were too many moments to enjoy...
I imagine at that moment, I'll mentally check out of my quiet house and back in to this craziness.
That's why I've written the night down...so someday when I miss the noise enough...I can check back in and relive it all.
The bouncing soccer ball, the detailed dream description, the preparation of cinnamon rolls, the twirling ballerina, and the Batman cape.