My Quest for a Book
The other day I was at the library looking for a good book to read since I had just finished a novel that left me with a bad taste in my mouth. The problem was not only that I had just finished this novel, but that it was a trilogy of novels that I had completed. My frustration was compounded because not only had I wasted the several hours spent to read one book with a lackluster ending but because I had spent more than two years waiting for each new tome to be released.
As I browsed the racks of musty books I realized that I haven’t read any classics lately. No sooner had the thought come and gone that the name Thoreau randomly popped into my mind, and since I have never read Thoreau I figured now was as good of time as any.
After looking at the books I grabbed “Walton” mainly because it was smaller than the rest and it seemed pretty interesting. I began reading the book soon after I arrived home, and I must say that the reading is much slower than I am used to because I am not very familiar with the language of that era. I guess I am getting more used to it because I just noticed that I used the words “lackluster,” “compounded” and “tome.”
The words seemed to slowly come off the page and hit me very directly in a way that I am unaccustomed to. Oops…there is another big word. Please forgive my frail attempts at writing poetically!
As I labored through each phrase I realized that these writings penned well over a hundred and fifty years ago spoke a similar theme that God has been working in me these past several months. One particular phase hit me even though it took me a few moments to fully grasp the meaning of “the meeting of two eternities.”
In any weather, at any hour of the day or night, I have been anxious to improve the nick of time, and notch it on my stick too; to stand on the meeting of two eternities, the past and future, which is precisely the present moment; to toe that line. – Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Suddenly I pictured a vast timeline infinitely spreading in each direction and I am precariously standing in the middle. The eternal past behind me and the eternal future in front of me and somehow I am standing on this precious sliver of time called the present.
With the eons that have long since past and the infinite time still yet to come I have been given a very small gift, a present if you will, of the present. My control of the past is over and my plans for the future are foggy at best, but I can influence this small nick of time that I now inhabit.
The Eternal Past
I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. Philippians 3:13
It seems as if many people enjoy living in the past. Indeed, I often find myself regurgitating old stories of exploits I thought to be meaningful. If we are not careful we can begin to entirely live our life in the past. The past undoubtedly has helped to slowly chisel us into who have now become. From my observation there are three things that cause us to live in the past:
Many people live in the painful shadows of hurt, abuse and mistakes. These things can be difficult for some people to overcome. Every single person that has ever drawn a breath on this planet has pain of one kind or another in their past.
For those that have wronged you, abused you and hurt you, it is time to let go. It is time to forgive. You may be trying to justify holding on to these things, as we often do, but you will never have freedom to live in the present if you are still clinging to the pain of the past.
Another way of clinging to the past is holding on too tightly to our successes. Maybe you scored a winning touchdown once…thirty-five years ago…and now you continually brag about how amazing you were? Perhaps you were the top salesmen of your company? Maybe you were the homecoming queen?
Sometimes it is easier to let go of our past failures than it is to let go of our successes. As long as we are continually salivating about what we once had or accomplished we will not be able to embrace the present we are in at this very moment.
3. If I’d
If I’d just went to Space Camp I’d be an astronaut now. If I’d invested in Apple I’d be a gazillionaire. If I’d kept practicing the violin I’d be a professional musician. If I’d lied more I’d be in politics…oops, I didn’t mean to say that. Whenever I would say stuff like that growing up my dad would always respond with, “If a frog had wings he wouldn’t bump his tail every time he jumped.” I still have no clue what that meant, but I am sure it was profound.
All the “If I’ds” in the whole word aren’t worth the breath it takes to utter them. It’s time to leave those past “If I’ds” in the past. If I’d been born with wings I probably won’t bump my tail either.
The Eternal Future
On one hand it is beneficial to look to the future. We should plan and set goals, but only if it affects us here in the present. I have the annoying tendency to bloviate about these amazing things I may do in the future. However, most of those things don’t have legs on them. They don’t matter right now. It’s the “Round Tuit” syndrome.
“I’ll read that book…when I get a round to it.”
“I’ll pray more…when I get a round to it.”
“I’ll be a better parent/spouse/kid/employee/boss/etc…when I get a round to it.”
Well, here it is…your Round Tuit. Have a blast…and get to it!
The Thin Line
So, here we are…right now. We are at balancing on this thin line that barely separates the eternal past from the eternal present. What are you doing to do about it. You can’t fix yesterday. You can plan for tomorrow, but what are you going to do now? This is really all that you have. This breath. This thought. This action. Are you living in the past? Are you living in the future? Live now.
Can you feel it? You are in it right now. Here. This is it. Don’t waste it. Live in it.