“Wherever you are, be all there.” – Jim Elliot
I’ve been a planner and list maker since birth. Well, at least since I had the mental capacity and hand dexterity to do so. As a child, my plans stretched the school year or summer. As a teenager, I planned further and further out, trying to determine where to go to school and what to study. And when I arrived at college, I felt the need to map out all 8 semesters- the classes to take, the way it would culminate in the perfect college experience, providing a foundation for more plans. However, plans only require further plans, and I became addicted to the need to think 5 or 10 steps ahead.
Plans aren’t all bad, and I’ll always stick by my list making habits. But along the way, God’s often derailed my own self-prescribed life. A surprise, sudden trip to Nepal. A college I didn’t really think I’d go to. Friends I never expected to have. A marriage at 20. A cross-country move at 22. And while some surprises haven’t been pleasant, many have been so much more than pleasant – they’ve been life-altering and foundational experiences for my very being. If I was left to my own vises, my life would be far less of an adventure.
But I fidget with presentness. I feel the need to pick at it, wondering if I can get it to ooze a secret about where I’m headed. But like a scab, the more I pick at it, the more it remains – rather, the more I remain suspended in the present, wondering what might be, and frustrated that I’m not yet aware.
But slowly the surprises of my life have taught me to leave the present alone. My mind still thinks of the next 20 steps if my life takes this turn or that, but I’ve learned to smile at my own psyche and tell it to calm down. There’s no point. It’s a waste of energy. I don’t know what’s coming. And I don’t know because I don’t need to know.
All I need to know is that I’m in this moment – this stage of life, with these people, in this city, in this apartment, with a bright yellow vehicle. And since this is where I am, this is where I should be, focusing my energy on who I am, rather than what’s coming next.