Many of us have seasons of life from our pasts that we would label “the good old days.”
Maybe it was when you were in college.
Maybe it was your newlywed years.
Maybe it was that one summer as a teen where you worked the BEST summer job.
When I look back at these seasons of my life, where life itself almost seemed too good to be true, there’s one main thing I ask myself: why is it that I didn’t really cherish those moments while I had them, but cherish them now that they are gone?
For me, I realize, it’s because I spend way too much time thinking and worrying about the minutiae. In those moments where life was at its peak, my day-to-day mental energy was spent thinking, worrying, or planning. It was spent out of the present and focused on the future.
I completely missed the opportunity to be embodied in the joy of the peak.
You may be wondering: wouldn’t my brain have filed those seasons of my life away under “bad” instead of “good” if my energy was more focused on planning/worrying/over-thinking than on the joy unfolding in those moments? If I was so bogged down with the minutiae during these “good old days”, then why do I still look back on those times in my life so fondly?
Because, when I zoom out, my brain can’t remember the mental energy I spent in the minutiae in those moments. It doesn’t remember the days I spent worrying about the boy I matched with on Hinge texting me back. It doesn’t remember the hours I spent stressing over what grade I would get on my capstone project. It doesn’t remember the embarrassing things I said that I spent too many nights losing sleep over. My retroactive mind only remembers the essence. It remembers the events of importance.
So this got me thinking: being bogged down in the minutiae doesn’t prevent us from having meaningful moments/seasons in our life. Beautiful moments in life will continue to unfold with or without our help. Instead, it prevents us from actually being able to enjoy those moments.
For months, I’ve been feeling burdened with this overwhelming sense that life is slipping through my fingers. Dramatic? Yes. True for me? Also yes.
It has felt like the good moments of life have slipped through my fingers without me actually being able to grasp onto them. By the time I realize that I was in a “peak” of life, the peak has already passed. The moment has already passed.
Now, however, I realize that it’s not life slipping through my fingers. It’s me not being present for my life.
I spend so many of my waking hours thinking and worrying and planning.
I think about what I should post on social media.
I worry about the happiness of my team.
I plan for our upcoming wedding.
I think about what life would be like if I lived on a big piece of land in an old farmhouse.
I worry about the health of my family.
I plan how I’m going to spend my leisure time in the week ahead.
Rinse and repeat.
As I spend the majority of my time in the landscape of my own mind, I miss out on what’s actually unfolding in reality. I miss out on my good old days.
So here is what I decided for myself on my walk last night as I pondered all of this: I’m done living solely in the confines of my own mind.
I can thank my mind for what it has done to get me to where I’m at today AND I can kindly ask it to step aside. It is time for her to rest.
I want to spend more time listening to the crickets sing and the birds chirp than planning our next newsletter topic.
I want to spend more time embracing the crisp shock of the salty, September sea than sinking into the stress of an overflowing inbox.
I want to spend more time laughing over a homecooked meal with family than hunched over a spreadsheet, worried about next month’s sales.
I want to spend my time in real life with real people doing real work that I enjoy. I want to be embodied in the essence of the moment rather than entangled in my thoughts in the moment.
Thinking, worrying, and planning will always be a part of life. The argument here isn’t to remove the duties of the mind altogether.
It’s about re-balancing the scales. My whole life, I’ve spent the majority of my time in my mind. Now, it’s time for me to spend the majority of my time steeped in the lived experience of my life.
I don’t know about you, but I want to enjoy my good old days while they’re actually unfolding. Do you?