Monday, September 24, 2012

Enjoying the ‘Now’

Five-year-old Talan and 19-month-old Bryce
found lots of entertainment in a small fan.

I love deadlines. I hate deadlines. “Make up your mind, Bob.” Let me explain.

After decades of journalistic training, I’ve learned to respond to deadlines. Deadlines provide motivation – I need to get something accomplished by a certain day or time. Must keep my commitments. Without deadlines to aim at, the procrastination bug bites. I think of many things to do, anything except what I’m supposed to do: write and edit. So a deadline gives me the incentive to focus on the task at hand and not get distracted.

At the same time, deadlines can keep me from valuing the moment. Concentrating on what needs to be done for then, I’m tempted not to appreciate what’s happening now. The other day, for example, two of my grandsons were here, doing what grandsons do. Silly stuff. Playing. Being cute. On that day, however, I had a deadline. Trying to push a book project I’ve been working on toward completion.

Little Bryce is taking
his first steps, and having
a grand time in the process.
So I had a dilemma: Should I stick to my work and keep on schedule, closing my home office door so the grandsons wouldn’t interrupt? Or should I sneer at the deadline and spend time with the boys?

Ultimately I compromised, taking breaks to play with Talan and Bryce a bit, including taking some photos (they grow up so fast!), and then getting back to the task. Not ideal, but at least I didn’t ignore an opportunity to be with them, time I’d never be able to recapture.

Years ago, as editor of community newspapers, I gave myself to the job. Work weeks of 60-70 hours or more were the norm. I was building my career. But I was also missing out on classic moments when my daughters were growing up.

Hiding in a closet also
is great fun, according
to Talan.
Now my career, for what it’s worth, has basically been built. There still are projects to do – books, magazine articles, workplace meditations, letters and blogs. But I’m also trying to curb my workaholic tendencies so I can enjoy the now, special moments with family that will be etched in my memory (as long as I have one).

That’s why Ephesians 5:16 serves as a good reminder: Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Moments, once past, are gone forever. Savor them – or lose them.

When I read that verse, it reminds me of boyhood years when my mother collected S&H Green Stamps. You got them at the grocery store, pasted them into collector booklets, and when you had enough you “redeemed” them for useful items at “redemption centers.”

As I recall, the one thing you couldn’t redeem there was time. Hopefully, I’m succeeding in doing some of that now – without the stamps.

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