Todd is a Navy man. He served over five years, mainly on the USS Milwaukee, an oil rig and cargo carrier, and his term of service coincided with the first Gulf War. During his final tour, he spent seven months overseas in the time before cell phones or even email. The wrinkle in this event was our little bundle who arrived five months into his deployment. He found out about Cassie Lynn the day after her birth, so to this day, he remembers her birthday as 10/10/91 instead of 10/9/91 when she actually arrived.
As you can imagine, having a spouse away for seven months comes with a few challenges. I found a way to pass the time, though. I managed to plan some key event every two or three weeks that I could mark on the calendar and invest my thoughts in to keep them off missing him. A family gathering, a church picnic, fireworks, the county fair, whatever it was, thinking about that coming event helped me maneuver those seven months without losing my mind. This little trick worked very well for moving through difficult periods of life, but I realized years later that I was using it in my daily life so much that I was missing out on the little moments right in front of me.
I’m a planner at heart. My favorite time of year–I know, I’m a nerd–used to be when the office supply store came out with the coming year’s desk blotter calendar and month-at-a-glance planner. I attacked each blank calendar with colored pencils in hand, eager to fill it with orderly plans for the coming year. If only they had sold two years at a time back then, my life would have been complete. With the advent of Google calendar, my little planner’s heart exploded with joy. I could set birthday reminders to infinity for people who would be gone long before Google forgot to send me that kind little pop up to send out that e-card or Facebook greeting. Nothing annoys me more than wasting time: the only commodity we all have in equal amounts each day. I can’t get it back once it’s spent.
Ouch! I can’t get it back once it’s spent…
…thinking about moments I might not get while I ignore the child beside me who wants to put together a puzzle or show me his latest artwork.
I can’t get it back once it’s spent…
…planning the future while I ignore the need in the eyes of my spouse, son, daughter, or grandchild.
While I invest my emotional capital in the next thing, I may be missing the most important thing.
I’ll never stop being a planner; it’s part of who I am, but I grow more aware each day of my need to be present in the moment and appreciate the next thing right in front of me, and I hope you will, too.
…and that’s the view from My Front Porch.