Lessons for Living        
"Living in the Present Tense"


How well do you do at staying in the present?








Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quickly you hardly catch it going. ~ Tennessee Williams

Many spiritual traditions emphasize the importance of having a period of daily quiet time. When we are quiet, we become more aware of the present moment and such awareness is central to living a good life.

Read this poem by Jason Lehman who was 14 years old when he wrote it. The poem was sent to Abigail Van Buren, who after verifying that the poet was indeed a teenager wise beyond his years, published it in her February 14, 1989 "Dear Abby" column.

Present Tense

It was spring, but it was summer I wanted,
The warm days, and the great outdoors.
It was summer, but it was fall I wanted,
The colorful leaves, and the cool, dry air.
It was fall, but it was winter I wanted,
The beautiful snow, and the joy of the holiday season.
It was winter, but it was spring I wanted,
The warmth and the blossoming of nature.
I was a child, but it was adulthood I wanted,
The freedom and respect.
I was 20, but it was 30 I wanted,
To be mature, and sophisticated.
I was middle-aged, but it was 20 I wanted,
The youth and the free spirit.
I was retired, but it was middle-age I wanted,
The presence of mind without limitations.
My life was over, and I never got what I wanted.

To get what we want, we must want what we have, when we have it. To appreciate what we have, we must be present to the moment. We must be aware, and awareness requires the practice of stillness and quietness. We must be able to slow down enough to see what is before us. Our attention can't off in the future or lost in the past. To get what we want, we must be fully present in the here and now.

In Eastern spiritual traditions meditation is the pathway to quietness. The Taoists have a saying, "To the mind that is still, the world surrenders." In the Judeo-Christian tradition the Psalmist speaks of being lead to green pastures beside "still waters" where we find restoration for the soul. Both traditions emphasize stillness as a key to experiencing the fullness of the present moment, which is -- after all -- the only one that we have. In all of our busyness, however, we often overlook it, and life passes us by.

Don't let life pass you by. Ensure that you get what you want by appreciating what you have. Learn to be still by finding a way for the daily practice of quietness.

Jason Lehman knew at age fourteen that life should be lived in the "Present Tense." Make sure you know as well. Remind yourself: The past is history, the future is a mystery, and today is a gift which is why we call it -- the Present. Enjoy your gift of "Today."

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