I looked far ahead at the traffic light. How long will it be green!? Maybe I’ll make it. Brake lights flash in front of me and I step on the brakes hard realizing the car right in front of me is stopping. My heart beats faster in the wake of an accident avoided. An accident of my making.
The thought that travel time is a waste of time invades my subconscious. It’s unproductive and futile and the news agrees with me. I read about the 15 worst cities for traffic and noticed our college town is not among them, not that you’d know that by talking to the locals.
Sometimes I daydream about the future when time travel is a reality. What total lack of innovation prevents us from experiencing the wonderful technology of time travel? Why hasn’t someone figured this out yet, for heaven’s sake?
Yes, you’re getting it. I’m in a hurry. You see what’s coming if I don’t change my ways, right? A rear-ender. Me smashed up, the car ahead of me and the people in it smashed up while the cars way ahead of me keep going. Getting places faster becomes not getting there at all at the expense of damage to property and people. Not hard to connect those dots.
A quick and simple look at this habit tells me, and you most likely, that I have a problem accepting the laws of the universe like time and space. Hurry is the word and it creeps up on me until I notice how ridiculous and dangerously I act because I am rushing.
I don’t want to be here. I want to be up there so I look up there. I’m anxious to get places faster because I planned too much for my day. Or, maybe I didn’t plan too much, but I’ve bought into the production doctrine of mankind, a life defined by results.
I’m not the only one. I see it when I talk with students. College is a time of preparation for the future. Education is an investment in the rest of our lives and in college, the rest of our life is getting pretty close. What will I do when I graduate? What will I do this summer? Will I find a spouse? Will I have a roommate next year?
So much thinking is towards the future. It’s not true just in college. As a young mom I kept thinking about when diaper changes would be done, naps given up, kids gone to school…and a life of freedom! Well, that day is come. My kids don’t wear diapers (they would want me to be crystal clear on that point), take naps (unless they’ve been to a sleepover), and they attend school all day, all of them.
So, am I free? Not as much as I thought. The next thing keeps cropping up.
It is easy to think the next stage will be it, the time when things get easier, freer. But constantly thinking about the next thing, like the car farther ahead, takes my eyes off the now. As a young mom, that was adorable, slobbery babies sitting at my feet. My current life. My reality. My actual place in time and space.
It set me on a collision course when I didn’t bring my eyes back to the here and now. And, it strikes me as the same now in something as mundane as traffic. I am in a certain space and time. It is the space and time given to me by a perfect Creator God. I cannot change it and I must accept it or wreak havoc on myself and others.
Fortunately I haven’t rear ended anyone yet in my life as far as car accidents go. I hope I never do. I am certain I have as far as emotional carnage goes. Encountering me on a mission and in a hurry must be pretty tough.
Maybe you’re a college student trying to plan for life after college. That is appropriate. That is where you are right now. If you’re investing, you need to know what future you are investing in…just don’t miss out on the chances to be faithful to your present reality because you are looking so far ahead. The future will come and it will surely be different from what you planned. The present is here. The relationships you have are now and they are also your reality. Invest in them too.
Or, maybe you’re a mom and it helps to hear again that it will change. You won’t always be swapping diapers longing for conversation in a home marked by shrieking. Someday they will talk to you and you will talk to them and it will be wonderful! And, hard in a whole new way. Invest in the mom you want to be while mothering in the proving grounds of toddler hood. You can’t skip around these years without doing the hard work of learning dependence on the Lord and expect to be ready for what will come.
So, I’ve used 780 words to say, basically, embrace your current reality!
But, I say it mostly for me. I sure hope I can grow to recognize the actual speed of time, acting and resting in my current place whether it is 3 deep at a red light, or taking on the realities of 3 school aged children who need more than a rushed and distracted mom.
How do you struggle to live in the present? Do you have a story like my traffic story that opened your eyes to how you struggle to embrace your current situation?