If you are depressed, you are living in the past, if you are anxious, you are living in the future, if you are at peace, you are living in the present.Lao Tzu
Rolling toward the end of the year, we may be inclined to look back over the previous months with mixed perspective. One tendency might be to lament all of the difficulties: loss, frustration, disappointment, fear, anger, despair. Much has happened and you likely have more than one thing that has caused pain during the year.
On the other hand, some may look back over the year and conclude that many good things have happened. Maybe time off has renewed familial connections and presentation opportunities for new experiences. Perhaps one might celebrate specific successes: financial, project, business, or health. You might conclude that 2020 has actually been a good year for you personally or choose to focus on the goodness you found within it.
Now, midway through December, some may be looking toward the New Year. What might it bring? There are those who look forward and feel uncertainty towards it. Will the pandemic get worse? Will I lose my job? What will happen politically? What happens if I get sick? What happens if someone I love gets sick? Will I ever return to work in an office? Looking forward in such times could fill us with much uncertainty.
Or, you might be looking forward with great expectation. A new year brings new possibilities. Some may be hopeful that vaccines help return the world to some sense of normalcy. Some may be starting a new job. You might look ahead toward exciting deals or projects on the horizon. Maybe you’re determined to take that big trip, one way or another. You may be looking toward 2021 with hopeful optimism.
Last night, Sally and I hosted our Leadership Team in a small Christmas dinner celebration in our home. The house was decorated from top to bottom: lights and ornaments, pillows and garland, candles and shimmery knick-knacks. Sparkling glasses were lined up on bar and table like toy soldiers ready for mission and dishes of food titillated eye and nose with expectant sensation. Traditional Christmas music played softly from Pandora but we couldn’t really hear it – the rooms were full of conversation far too loud for the size of our group. We all talked and laughed like it had been years since there was any reason to talk and laugh.
As we prepared to sit down for dinner, I thanked everyone for joining us, for a great year for the company, and for sharing the broader journey. I suggested that some might approach the end of year with an eye toward all that has happened or set their eyes squarely toward the future. And that would be ok.
Then, I asked everyone to put the past and the future out of their minds and simply be in the moment we were sharing. For just a few minutes, let’s look at all that we have and all that we are in this moment. The air in our lungs and the strength in our limbs. The company we keep and the joy brought in sharing a few moments with them. The food on our table and the ability to sit peacefully and savor it. The safety within these walls and the knowledge that we walk freely outside of them. Take it all in and cherish it, right here, right now.
Rolling toward the end of this year, you may feel like you’ve fought a ten month war and are limping toward some kind of armistice on December 31. Or, you may have just laced-up your running shoes, anxious and prepared to sprint into the promise of the New Year. Perhaps you feel both.
In our small collection of humanity last night, we had it all. Some had overcome COVID-19. Some had battled cancer. Some had dealt with death. Some had struggled with family members. Some had fought through a job transition. Some had taken major financial hits. Some had sold or bought a home and some had moved between states. At the same time, all were alive, healthy and looking toward life’s possibilities with a powerful sense of hope. The moment was rich with gratitude.
Today, step into your day and experience the fullness of the present moment. Inhabit this moment of your life completely and gratefully. Take a few minutes and don’t look back or ahead, just bask in the glory of being alive. Tell yourself that “this is enough.” It may bring peace and remind you that every breath going forward is a gift.