Thomas Merton, a well-known monk, wrote that he hoped that he showed up for life. He was concerned that the "who" he presented was only a semblance of who he actually was. Merton wrote, "We live lives of self-impersonation." We fear that the image we present of ourselves is tailored to the expectations of others. It brings to mind that saying, "I hope at the end of my life, I did not live someone else's dream; that I lived my own dream."
As I look over my life, I ask myself the same question: Did I show up for life? Was I fully invested in the moment? With these questions in mind, I wonder if I indeed showed up for those special moments in my life. Some moments occurred while raising our sonsâ€”before they grew up and moved away. Others involved being with my parents before they passed. At the time, I did not realize what a treasure those moments would become later in my lifeâ€”that I would one day wish I could relive them.
I remember one time in particular when the "who" I presented was only a semblance of myself. I was getting ready to leave for an internship in Panama. My parents, family, and friends gave me a going-away party. I was on edge and irritable. Of course, I felt conflicted because these wonderful people generously and lovingly gave me this party, and I was not in the moment. Later that evening, when I began to relax, I realized I had been on edge because I was anxious about my trip to Panama.
Did I show up for life?
Was I fully invested in the moment?
Reflecting on this question in mind,
I wonder if I indeed showed up
for those special moments in my life.
Some of us do not claim the moment because we are thinking about what comes next. We cannot stay with the moment. We are like someone with the channel remote scrolling through the channels, never stopping long enough to see what is really showing.
Time can be defined in several ways, but two, in particular, come to mind: time is the ticking of the clock, and time is the opportunity to grasp the moment when it happens because it will not be around for long. Time defined as an opportunity can be compared to the Blue Light Specials once offered by K-Mart. We have a limited chance to claim the bargain or opportunity. When the blue light goes off, the opportunity vanishes. Special moments spent with our spouses, children, parents, and friends are Blue Light Specials. We need to grasp those moments because later, we will see how precious they were, and we will want to relive them.
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700