Sunday, May 31, 2015

Enjoy the "here and now"

My sister and her family came up north for Memorial Day weekend last weekend. I spent a lot of time working in the garden and ‘creating” (word I like to use to essentially mean ‘repurposing” garage sale treasures into the garden area) and putting in a new flower bed. As I mentioned in prior posts, I love to putz around in the yard when I can; first, because it provides me with a distraction from the many thoughts that often swirl in my mind; second, because is it physical activity that doesn’t classify as the dreaded “exercise” (a word I don’t like); and third; because it gives me something beautiful to nurture and take care of.

On Saturday evening, Kelly came over and the two of us spent some ‘sister time” sitting in the yard overlooking the gardens.  She told me multiple times that day that it the yard looked beautiful and each time she said that, I countered with, “thanks, BUT….nothing is really in bloom yet…and it WILL be gorgeous in a ….few weeks…or a month…or.”  She is unable to come up for the 4th of July week-long reunion so she won’t see the gardens when the perennials bloom. I was somewhat apologetic that she won’t see the garden in its full glory, but commented about how silly it is for me to ‘wish my summer away” just so that things will be ‘beautiful” because really once it’s over, it’s over and so is summer.  I also remarked to her about how each week something else blooms….but essentially…once it blooms for the few days/weeks, it is done for the season and I wait another year, so which really is the best time….NOW; when there isn’t much but foliage to greet me…..or LATER; when the yard explodes with color?  Many would say in a month from now….but not me.

Certainly in a month, providing the frost forecasted AGAIN for tonight doesn’t damage the blooms, the perennials will be gorgeous…..but what about the ones blooming now?  What about the lilacs and lily of the valley whose fragrance greet me when I come out the door to go to work each morning?  What about the few remaining tulips in bloom?  They will be gone….but to be replaced with others. Too often I overlook the early bloomers because I’m so focused on the end result.  What about the anticipation and excitement I feel right now as I planted the annuals and check each day to see what perennials survived the bitter cold this winter?  That will be replaced with a sense of satisfaction….but is one feeling really better than the other?  What about the stubborn determination I feel that THIS SUMMER, I am going to outsmart the deer and weather conditions and I WILL… hear that….I WILL…..get cucumbers to grow this year?  Certainly that HOPE feels good; maybe not as good as a home-grown cucumber is going to taste, but good, nonetheless. 

My point is this: Too often in our lives, we put all the emphasis on the END….the RESULT…..the big ‘day” or holiday….and we forget to appreciate and value the joy of the journey/process.  For me, personally, the month of December is far more exciting and joyful as I prepare and decorate for the holidays than the 48 hours of complete chaos/stress that we call Christmas Eve/Day.  The months/years of excitement planning a wedding/party/special vacation (whatever) is often as joyful as the moment (which is usually awesome but can lead to the “after celebration” let-down.  Parents who are suffering from the empty nest will often attest that the chaotic and hectic schedules of child-rearing are often the ‘best years of one’s life” and the goal of “getting all the kids grown and out of the house so it stays clean” isn’t always the joyous event one anticipated. The same goes for graduating school/college, reaching retirement, turning a certain age……OR….finally reaching one’s goal on his/her personal journey.

I have often spoke about the importance of “enjoying the journey” rather than focusing on the destination/goal.  My gardening experiences this past week has simply reinforced this principal.  While it is incredible to reach one’s goal and the sense of accomplishment is amazing, there is SO MUCH joy to be found along the way.  Think about it… does it feel to put on a pair of pants and find that they are too big?  How great it is to be able to do something like walk up the stairs for the first time in years and not be out of breath? How awesome is it to go to a party and be strong enough to say, ‘wow, that looks good, but ‘no thanks’?  The list is endless: putting a new notch in the belt; buying a smaller size; getting a compliment; touching your toes or crossing your leg……or a hundred other things.  Do you really want to miss those special moments….just to get to reach your goal and be faced with the much-harder task of keeping the weight off?  Don’t get me wrong; there is immense joy in BOTH….just don’t focus so much on the end that you forget the present.

No doubt, you will feel amazing when you reach your final goal. No doubt my garden will be awesome in a month or so when it is in full bloom…..but what are you failing to notice/appreciate TODAY….as you wait/work/hope/anticipate then?  I sat on the swing on Tuesday morning before work and looked around at the gardens…..and this time I noticed those things that WERE present now…..not just focused on what is yet to be.  I picked some spurge and lily of the valley to put in a vase and each day this week, I was greeted with the fragrance of “what IS today” and was reminded that “what IS today” is as much a gift/blessing as ‘what WILL be in a few weeks.”  My focus this past few days has been to look for the blessings/joy in the “HERE and NOW”….all those things that I take for granted and overlook simply because I am waiting for ‘something better” to happen.  I shouldn’t have been surprised that once I began to ‘look” that I would notice…..a real RED HEADED woodpecker (not the downy, hairy, red-bellied or pileated) perched on a tree on my route to work, or the steam rising out of the pond because it was cold in the morning, or the sounds of the mating birds or just how beautiful the leaves of a fern are as they are unfurling from the ground.  These are things that I would just sometimes take for granted….but are only for a fleeting season.   What are YOU missing out on today…..while you are anticipating/waiting/hoping for something in the future?

God is present in the HERE and NOW and there is JOY/cause to celebrate each step in the journey!!  Today I rejoice and am grateful for all that IS…..and hopeful for all that WILL BE! Make it a great day…..for someone else…and for yours