I mentioned last week that I was re-reading Four Thousand Weeks (Goodreads link).
I’ve now finished, marking on practically every page; and while I still have much work to do (seriously, so many notes!), my Present lesson for this month comes from Chapter 8. You Are Here. The chapter opens with a discussion about how we use time “instrumentally, as a means to an end” (p. 125) so “we treat everything we’re doing — life itself, in other words — as valuable only insofar as it lays the groundwork for something else … treating the present solely as a path to some superior future state — and so the present moment won’t ever feel satisfying in itself.” (pp. 126-127).
Burkeman goes on to share about how it took him becoming a parent to see how “mired [he was] in that future-chasing mindset.” (p. 128) I grasped a bit of that back in 2015 when I first chose this word, and I’ve certainly glimpsed more this year, but still, Present has been something I was doing for future me. seeing possibilities. making memories. Giving myself a bit of grace, I’d also like to think I was doing those things for future others (mostly my family and for sure, my two grandsons). Of course even that found me sometimes “…too busy self-consciously wondering whether you’re being present enough or not.” (p. 139, from a section most aptly titled “Absent in the Present”)
Maybe you can see where all of this is headed … as I’ll be bringing home a puppy next week? I’m devouring Alexandra Horotwitz’ The Year of the Puppy (Goodreads link) and I think she and Burkeman are on the same page. I don’t want to squander these first weeks and months focused solely on the dog this puppy will become: “…to squander these days of this actual existence by focusing solely on how best to use them for the sake of his future one.” (p. 130)
So (says me today!) we are going to enjoy the puppy being a puppy. (I think my breeder gets this, too – when I mentioned on Friday that I was wanting to start training classes, she said “great … in SMALL doses”.) and I can only assume that pottying outside is in everyone’s definition of enjoying the puppy 🙂
Horowitz models the kind of Present I strive to be with our puppy – celebrating, loving, and embracing them for who they are.
I know I’m going to spend at least a few moments dreaming about a phase that I hope will soon pass (chewing table legs?) … and still, I look forward to being here for every single one of them. truly being here.
Thank you to Carolyn for hosting these monthly check-ins, and to each of you for reading and being part of my story. I’m grateful.