There was a period in human history when it was a lot easier to live in the here and now than it is today. For the longest time, life was pretty much the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow, for as far as the eye could see in either direction. If you were a farmer back in the middle ages, there’s a good chance that nothing much changed in your lifetime, other than the stone wall your grandfather had started building when you were a lad got a little bit longer throughout your days. Sure, you got married and had kids, and I guess you could worry about the Lord of the Manor conscripting you for his army, but not making judgments as to whether life was good or bad, it’s pretty much a fact that back then, day to day was pretty much the same.
Part of the problem for us moderns is that the pace of life is constantly increasing at what appears to be an ever accelerating rate. Nothing is constant and insecurity surrounds us. At the same time, the number of decisions and choices we must make keeps multiplying out of control. Nobody wants to make a wrong decision and our fears of doing so cause tension and inner conflict and make us unable to act. And it’s not just the big stuff. How many of us have gotten frozen in our tracks in the cereal aisle of the supermarket completely unable to make a decision because of the unbelievable number of options available. Oh, for the good old days when Kix, Cheerios, Corn Flakes, and Shredded Wheat were all we had to juggle.
Imagine then, my joy on getting an email from my daughter, a single mom with two young boys, who wrote of what appears to be a simple incident on an ordinary day, but really is a wonderful lesson on how to live in the immediate present and make the most of life. I present it to you with her blessings and permission to share it.
So I’m in the café buying my lunch. It’s one of my favorites – a grilled vegetable Panini with fresh basil pesto and fresh mozzarella. This was the inspiration for the spread I made on July 4th. José always takes care of me. As I walked up – without a single word – he pointed to the veggie sandwich, I nodded, and he proceeded to fill a separate cup with extra pesto for me. This is just how I like it. Beaming, I thanked him for being so good to me and explained how I’m a better chef now because of him… as I modeled my family picnic meal after his lunches.
I walked to the cashier (a very grumbly, pessimistic 19 year old), smiled and this is our conversation: “Hi Karen,” I said.
She smiled and said, “I don’t know how you do it. You’re always so happy.”
Thinking about my recent and ongoing depressive state, I laughed and said, “Ha… you don’t know me that well. You only see me here. I have my moments.”
“We all do,” she said. “But you always manage to smile and be so happy.”
“Well,” I said, “I guess it just helps to smile. Even when things aren’t going so well… it can help.”
As I walked away, beaming from ear to ear… I briefly thought about my life, my finances, my love life, my current situation… and smiled even more. Sometimes it just takes a grilled veggie sandwich to make one truly happy.
May we all be so inspired to live in the here and now and find the beauty in life.
Thanks for the lesson Dani.