The Happy Life – Present

Remember roll call back in school?

Bobby?  “Here.”  Sue?  “Here.”  Jerry?  “Here.”  Cyrano?  “Present”

Present.  Really Cyrano?  Present?  Smart aleck.

I remember thinking how using the word “present” during a roll call had the effect of making you stand out in a crowd.  Being “present” in a sea of folks who were simply “here” made you a little different.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to the conclusion that being “present” is probably still less common than it should be, makes you a little different, but has a value that goes mostly unappreciated.

Consider the case of old Cyrano who claimed to be “present” in that roll call all those years ago.  Cyrano has a thing for a young lady named Rose.  He is sitting on a park bench in New Orleans daydreaming about a recent encounter he had with the object of his affection, Rose.  He thinks to himself…”Dang, you know what I should have said?  I should have said….well, no…I’ll bet she wouldn’t like that.  Maybe next time I’ll….”

Meanwhile, as old Cyrano is busy ruminating about the past, he looks up from his park bench to discover that two of his football heroes, Peyton Manning and his brother Eli, are walking his way along the path in front of his park bench!  Cyrano starts scrambling for his iPhone to take a video, but it’s stuck in his pocket!  The Mannings are now passing in front of him and Cyrano is still dancing around clumsily, desperately trying to dislodge that phone from his trousers!

Peyton says…”You alright, mister?”

Cyrano is beside himself because remarkably, to save his life, he cannot get that dang phone out of his pocket!

“Uh, yeah, I’m fine…Mr. Manning…er, uh…#!+?*#+!’

Peyton and Eli smile and walk away.  They have seen this a few times.

Cyrano said he was “present” all those years ago.  And he may well have been.  But today, Cyrano is rarely present.

He spends his days reliving his past encounters…regretting, re-running scenarios, thinking about ‘what if’, beating himself up, etc.

And then when something really great is happening in the moment he focuses on capturing that moment for posterity on video.  That way he can enjoy the moment for days to come AND probably get a whole bunch of “likes” on his FaceTwit account….maybe even go viral!

You know the problem, of course.  You probably have the same problem.

We all do at some level I suppose.  The problem is that any time spent re-hashing the past or focusing on recording the present for the future is time spent not focusing on what is in front of us….RIGHT NOW!

…and that means we are missing out on a conversation we could be having with our own “Rose” at this very moment.  Or failing to experience the very thing we wish to capture and take with us for future joy.

Cyrano would do well to focus on what is in front of his nose.  Find and appreciate the Roses in your life because yesterday is over and video only captures two of the five senses.

Roses are spectacular when they bloom but they are only with us for a short time.  They are such a prize…..but you have to be “present” to win.


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7 Replies to “The Happy Life – Present”

  1. Thanks Ken. Perfect timing… just yesterday eve as I was taking my daily walk around the lake with Levi I spotted this beautiful crane that I had been trying to photograph. I fumbled and got annoyed with Levi that refused to sit for me while I attempted to take a pic. Needless to say I missed the shot, my bff Levi was upset with me and I missed observing the beautiful creature! 🙂

  2. I love this post as it is so very perceptive of life today with all the quick and hustle. I have often thought about how social media plays a huge role in our watching life go by in past, or other’s lives. Many times I’ve noticed my kiddo playing on the playground or singing a dyslexic alphabet and instead of taking note of this moment or relishing in the good part of kids, I’m looking through a feed of others moments or my own past ones.

    1. We all do it. It’s a tough nut to crack. But the thing that jumped out at me when I was re-reading this post and your comment is the idea that video only captures 2 of the 5 senses. When we opt for a social media “recollection” of some sort we are basically trading in the present for 40% of a past experience. I guess what we are really doing is calculating that 40% of yesterday is better than 100% of today.

      Hmmm….that’s interesting.

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