Sunday, January 8, 2012

No Time But the Present

Presence.

After our recent holiday break, a colleague shared how much she enjoyed visiting with her elderly grandmother during our time off. “One thing that is so great about her,” she explained, “is how she absolutely lives fully in the present moment!”

“Of course,” she continued, “she then re-lives that moment again…and again…but each time, she’s really present!”

We chuckled as she told that story, and I was reminded of a lunch with two important people just a few years ago. One was a high school teacher who was, and is, one of my most valuable mentors. Mr.“A” invited his mentor, Mr. “G,” to join us. Mr. “G” was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, still physically capable but already showing signs of impairment to his short-term memory.

As we ate our lunch and told stories about our past experiences with one another, Mr. “G” delighted in telling one particular story about Mr. “A”from the “old” days at Miller High School. We laughed, and in a matter of moments, Mr. “G” began to tell the same story again, with the same delight and detail as if he were telling it for the very first time. And, recognizing that his illness had limited his memory to that present moment in time, we enjoyed the story with him, just as if we had never heard it. We did so again and again and again.

Of course, I would never minimize the devastating toll that Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia take on those that develop those conditions, and their loved ones, but the experience with Mr. “G,” and the story of my co-worker’s grandmother, serve as somewhat of an example to me.

Mr. “G” had no recollection that he had told that story just minutes before, because his condition had robbed him of his past. His ability to project and plan for the future were limited as well. And he lived happily in that present moment, unburdened by regrets of what had happened before, or worry about what was to come. He had no choice.

But I do have a choice. I can choose to re-live a conversation when I might wish I’d said something different… to re-hash a time when I’d been wronged and think of all the reasons I was right… or to fret over what might happen tomorrow, next week, or in a few years if my “best-laid” plans don’t work out according to my obsessively detailed blueprint. Or I can choose to enjoy every second of this present moment with the people I love, doing the things that matter, however significant or mundane they may be.

There is an old adage: “No time like the present.” But, truthfully, there is no time but the present, is there?

6 comments:

  1. There is no time BUT the present, true. But if you make your PRESENT rich enough, like Mr. G, your stories will be wonderful when there is no time but the past.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wonderful sharing, Scott! Remembering that it is, indeed, a fact.....ALLLLLLL that we have IS the present moment in time....that there are NO guarantees about a future.....WISDOM concludes that all of our best needs to be done NOW. You have demonstrated that you've understood that well in the past. I'm confident in your future.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have thought of you a dozen times over the holidays and sent huge doses of affection your way each time. So fun to have a way to know what you are thinking about! Sorry about my profile...I use this account for my Godchildren and can't figure out how to have a second option.

    LOVE that you are doing the blog!!
    Katharine

    ReplyDelete
  4. how true what you say is, my friend,and I am very much practicing living in the present....sometimes I feel pain and sorrow more but I also laugh more, dance more, observe more and listen more ...thats on good days...thanks for the reminder! xxooxx principessa

    ReplyDelete
  5. "The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present."
    ~Alice Morse Earle

    ReplyDelete