THE BEST LAID PLANS
The other evening I attended a rehearsal dinner for a friend’s wedding. During the dinner I found myself engaged in a wonderful in-depth conversation with two members of the wedding party, one from the bride’s side and the brother of the groom. Both individuals were in their mid-thirties, single and career oriented. The young woman had recently returned to graduate school at a prestigious university on the east coast and the gentleman was a technical engineer in Silicon Valley. After the initial chitchat, my questions led us to an area they both seemed to be struggling with, goals and expectations. Each vocalized the same issues affecting their lives. How striving and focusing on self ordained goals and meeting expectations kept them constantly looking ahead or over their shoulder. Fully experiencing the here and now was not part of the equation. The sense that all the time and energy devoted to their work and the stress it created was preventing them from having any peace of mind and enjoyment in life.
As dinner progressed, our conversation eventually zeroed in on two main themes.
The first was how so much of our life is happening right NOW! How the dinner we were eating right NOW tasted so much better than the one we might eat next month or the cheeseburger we had last year. How our interaction was so enlivening and intense because we focused on right NOW. How the sunset was the most beautiful sunset we had ever seen because it was happening right NOW. And so on!
As the pressure and pace of our modern lives speed along, reminding our minds to appreciate and stay in the present moment can be challenging and yet extremely easy to learn. It just takes a little time and conditioning.
The other theme was how to widen your field of vision to see the path ahead and when to focus on the task before you to take the next step. Having an eye on the target all the time and the weight of expectations, both big and small, can cause blindness to all the little signs and opportunities life is throwing our way. The final comment I shared with these thoroughly enjoyable young people was how letting go of the end result of their expectations can have a positive impact on their sense of well being as they meet the challenges of everyday school and business. We discussed how letting go is often confused with giving up. I explained how they are worlds apart and a topic for another day.
As I left the dinner that night I turned to the maid of honor and best man and made my newly appreciated statement, “this is the best rehearsal dinner I have ever been to.” Their immediate response, “because it was right the blank NOW!” Ain’t that the truth.