Simply Lou – “The Present”
article and illustration by Lou Davenport
One of my favorite quotes, by Bill Keane, is one that has been around for quite awhile. You have probably heard it but, it’s one I hold dear. “Yesterday’s the Past, Tomorrow’s the Future, but Today is a Gift. That’s why it’s called the Present.”
We all know this is true, but do we really keep this in mind each day? I know I try to, but then things get hectic, dramas unfold, and what happens? We get swept up into all that “stuff,” and forget what is really important in our lives. We all do this, we might as well admit it. We lose our present.
Something I have consciously done in the last few years is to try to stay right here in the present moment. Yeah, I know, that “staying in the present” sounds like a lot of “New Age” stuff but, think a little deeper. Staying in the present takes some practice. It is not as easy as it sounds. None of us can get it right all the time, but the important thing is to just try. But when you do think about it, that is all we have. “Give everyday the chance to become the most beautiful of your life,” said Mark Twain. We do not have a promise of a tomorrow.
What if you spend all your time thinking about your past? I have a past that is rich in experiences or better yet, my life up to this point, could be the stuff of bad country songs! And yes, I set up “camp” in my past and lived ‘”slap dab in the middle of it!” Oh, it thought it was so much easier to replay all that old music, hit rewind and play it again, over and over. I just wrapped myself up in my past like grandmaw’s quilt until I was so sick and tired of being sick and tired of myself, I had to give myself some tough love! As in, “Put on your big girl panties and deal with this LOU! You do have a life to live, girl! Get over it and get on with it! You cannot change one thing in your past. If you try, you have lost your present again!”
It’s the same about the future. Future? I don’t even know what is going to happen today! None of us can predict the future. Same as the past, we can get so far out in our futures, we can get lost there as well. You lose your present! Even Albert Einstein said, “I never think of the future it comes too soon.” I can say that I have not ventured into the future too far. Plan for the future? I did try to do that. I planned to have my retirement years covered but, I lost way over a quarter of a million dollars when I did. YES! What are you going to do? Cuss the stock market, throw a hissy fit and cry? I did those but then, what? Laugh at your silly ass and pray a lot. Just be thankful you can pay your bills and have some food to eat. Frank Sinatra sang it well, “’I’ve been up and down and over and out but I know one thing, each time I find myself flat on my face, I just pick myself up and get back in the race. You can be “ridin’ high in April, and shot down in May.” You sure can, Frank! I have had it all and lost it all many times and not just that quarter of a million. Always keep your “big girl panties” close by
What if you just sit around waiting and planning for the “Zombie Apocolypse” or “The End of Days” all the time? Not me. You have to live for today. What happens IF those “doom and gloom” folks are right? Well, I’m dead! So be it. Do I have a plan? No, what plan? I just refuse to give up my present for that kind of negative thinking. The best I can hope for is Darryl from “The Walking Dead” finding me and I get to ride off into the sunset with him and his crossbow.
Now, about that ‘living in the present.’ I truly believe in just doing one day at a time. Most of the time, life is routine. We do the same things. Same stuff, different day. (SSDD) I now enjoy my routine days, fully. I intentionally try to make them fun. I laugh. In between the routine “stuff,” we have times of joy and sadness. You can find joy, obviously, in those good times. But, can you in the worst of times? How about those times when you are slammed down so hard you don’t know “what hit you?” I have a few secret weapons. First breathe. Have a good cry and/or throw a hissy fit. Get on those “big girl panties.” Then, dig down deep and bring out your sense of humor!
I laugh A LOT. I hope I make others laugh, too. Having a sense of humor can help get you through anything. It has never failed me. So, I use mine everyday, no excuses. That is my present, my “right here, right now” for making it one day at a time. Be silly, be outrageous, be absurd! Who cares what anybody thinks! Laugh at yourself! Quit wasting time on worrying about things that may or may not happen! Because, there you will go, losing your present! I have gone so far as to “visualize” my present. Oh, it is not just “any old present!” It’s a beautiful blue box from Tiffany’s! I think big!
Never, ever miss the opportunity to tell the ones you love that you love them! ALWAYS! Eat and really enjoy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as if it’s the best steak you have ever tasted, if that is all you have. What are you saving your good perfume for? Put it on! Enjoy that smell that makes you happy! Put on your good jewelry if you have any! ( I’ll admit, I don’t really have any, but, “fake it til you make it!”) When my last day comes, I hope I leave out of here laughing, with no regrets, knowing I did my best, my kids knew they were always and forever loved unconditionally and that that was good enough. And, maybe, I made a few people laugh til they peed their pants!
“Tomorrow is never promised to anyone, so dance until your feet ache! Laugh until your sides hurt and say I love you to those you love.” And may Darryl rescue you, too, if the “walkers” show up one day! And don’t forget your “big girl panties” and your Tiffany’s present!