Saturday, March 9, 2013

When to live

I've been thinking a lot lately about the balance of learning from your past and planning for your future, while living in the moment.

I've always been a bit sentimental about my past. I'm not sure if this is because of my great pride, seriously, I love my life! Or maybe it is the result of lifelong journaling and the time spent looking over old photos and memorabilia. I don't know what the cause of my sentimentality is, but I've always tried to keep a tab on my sappy romanticizing of my former life stages and experiences.

I'm the exact opposite about my future. Sure there's the "oh, one day it'd be cool to ..." conversations you have with others, but the older I get the more realistic I've become about those dreams. And I honestly can't envision anything past the next two months. Even though I have two children sleeping soundly in the rooms next to mine, it is nearly impossible for me to believe I'll one day be the mom of teenagers. That just doesn't seem real. Clearly my kids will grow up, but that concept is so hard for me to grasp!

We have the missionaries over about once a week (wow, what a topic change, huh? stay with me). I don't even remember what their lesson was this past week, but they showed us a funny video ... oh yeah, Lott's wife! Well, I found myself saying that I have to make sure I don't ask "what if" questions. "What if I had dared try out for a college basketball team?" I just don't go there, because I didn't. There is no what if. My college life is what it was, and it was quiet fabulous. So why waste time wondering?

On several different occasions Ben has said to me, "what if I had just been willing to go to BYU Law?" There are a couple obvious answers to that question. 1) We'd have no law school debt (oh the joys!) and 2) I would have spent the first four years of my married life near my family. But then there are all the "hmmm, what ifs?" to that question. Like, would I have enjoyed teaching Utah kids? Would I have even been offered a job? Would we still live out there? Would I have hated Utah valley as much as I imagine? Oh, the ward would surely have driven us bonkers!

And that's why I avoid "what if?" musings. There is no what if. You cannot adequately imagine your life some other way, and you are only cheating yourself of enjoying the memories you've built when you try to picture it all differently.

Just as the "what ifs?" are so hard to imagine, I realize the "somedays" are equally difficult for me to figure out. I remember a working mom friend of mine asking me if I thought I'd be a stay at home mom. I said no. I've often wondered if I intentionally lied to her to make her feel better about her choices. I don't think I did. At the time I really probably couldn't imagine myself enjoying staying at home all day.  I don't think I ever saw myself sewing my child his own set of training pants or farm animal puppets. Who would have guessed I'd find budgeting so enjoyable? Or that I'd spend hours pinning do it yourself home decor ideas. During my patriarchal blessing my parents literally laughed out loud when I was blessed to be a good cook. Laughed out loud, during something that is suppose to be so sacred. I took no offense; my fourteen-year-old self was (occasionally) great at baking cookies and browning beef. That was about it.

I'm not sure what the purpose of these ramblings are. Maybe I'm just blogging because I know it makes my dad happy (shout out Scotty P!). But I guess I'd really like to hear from anyone reading this far along. What do you do to help you prepare for your future? How do you make sure you don't spend time day dreaming about your past? And is it okay to be someone who just lives in the moment?


Anonymous said...

I loved your blog. I am a silly sentimentalist as well. I used to walk around the farm and cry my eyes out as I recalled days gone by -- when my children were little, when I was teaching school, when I was a young lad walking on the same dirt pathways, etc...
I too have always lived in the present, not planning adequately for the future. I usually wish much of my time away "oh I can't wait to be through with this project.." or "I can't wait to have that meeting over with." I don't enjoy the moment as much as I should.
And now that I'm nearing the end of my existence on this earth, I find that I have not prepared adequately for my golden years. I should not have been so generous with my children paying for their college, buying cars, etc.
Oh, but I remember that your patriarchal blessing tells you that you will take care of your aging parents!!! ...and you learned to cook -- hallelujah!!!
Good night! I love you. Pa

Tiff said...

I guess I'm the opposite. I rarely think about the past but am always dreaming about the future. I'm excited for Albert to retire so we can travel and go on a mission together. I love to plan!

I have a hard time living in the present but it's been easier since becoming a mom. It's fun watching my little guy grow and learn and I don't want to wish this time away.

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