Did you ever read that story about the little boy who had a magical ball of string he could pull to make time go faster? It's haunted me since Mrs. Sutton read it to us in the second grade.
Whenever the boy wanted to skip some event in his life, he just pulled on that string.
"Wow!" I thought, "I wish I could do that!"
And so I tried one day in an elevator.
I hate elevators. I am terrified the doors will not open and I will be
stuck and no one will know that I am trapped in a man made traveling cage. I have since learned to deal with elevators, but eight-year-old me had not.
I squeezed my fists and eyes shut and imagined that the elevator ride had ended and I was stepping outside into safety. And before I knew it, my imaginings came to be: the elevator stopped, the doors opened, and I was free.
I realized that if I visualize the end of a situation, it seems to arrive more quickly. And so, I have imagined the end of auditions, meetings, events...
And it has all passed.
But I think I passed through those situations without truly living them, thus saving myself the danger of hurting in the unpredictability of the present.
Or, I can avoid the now by reliving past moments of success, certain that the future can never live up to what used to be. Or, I dwell in moments of
shame, forcing myself to watch my mistakes on replay, as if to pay penance for what I've done.
It's like I'm a time traveler, using my imagination to pass the time anywhere but HERE.
It's a coping mechanism to deal with fear. It has to be. But in trying to hide from embracing the good, the bad, and the ugly life serves up in overwhelming portions, I have stolen life from myself.
The only opportunity for true joy is here. Right now. To live in the future is to grasp for control. To live in the past is to hide and protect.
But in the present, we have the rare gift of experiencing to the fullest. Breathing deeply, capturing in reality what memory can only summon a reflection of.
Living where I am has been my challenge this summer. I've spent six glorious, whimsical weeks adventuring in seven different countries. I walked along the Themes, biked to the Louvre, snorkeled between two tectonic plates, hiked in the Alps, and listened to Mozart's melodies in a castle.
it was hard for me to stay present.
Which totally and completely obliterated my theory that "If I was in Paris..." Or "If I was in Iceland...." I would be content.
Contentment lies not in circumstance.
Contentment is a choice.
A choice to be all there, wherever your "there" might find you.
Don't waste a moment longer pulling that string and time traveling. It's not all it's cracked up to be.
Right here, right now? This is where it's at.