I was looking forward to viewing the solar eclipse that made its way across the United States earlier this week. The experience was far beyond my expectations.
It’s hard to put into words just how awesome, beautiful or surreal the scene was. From the first glimpse of the moon beginning to cover the sun to the main even of the total eclipse and diamond ring, it was an event I will never forget.
Before the big day arrived, I decided I wasn’t going to take any pictures during the 2 minutes of the eclipse. My thinking was there would be plenty of other people capturing the moment, who had much better photography skills than I possess. Instead, I decided to just watch the event and take it in.
I made a good choice. It was nice to be totally in the moment without distraction.
While taking pictures is a great way to capture a moment, at times, I think the best way to preserve a memory is to give an event, or person, our undivided attention. Not every event or occasion requires we reach for a device to take a picture. Sometimes, all we need to do is just take it in.
This week I saw the following statement on someone’s T-shirt: “Enjoy it because it’s happening now”.
I love this timely reminder!
With the beginning of a new year, it’s common to focus on goals and what we plan on doing in the upcoming weeks and months of 2017. While looking ahead and planning are indeed both important endeavors, it’s equally important that they not occur at the expense of enjoying the good things we’re experiencing in the present moment.
It seems to me that we create our history, our memories, our relationships, and even cement our legacies by how we choose handle what’s happening to us in each moment.
What kind of memories are we creating when we’re overly focused on the future? What kind of relationships are we creating when we’re too distracted slow down and connect with the people we love and care about? How will we be remembered by the people with whom we have the pleasure of crossing paths with? Will they feel like we were looking over their shoulders to see what was next, or will they feel like we actually cared about and were interested in them?
Once gone, a present moment cannot be recaptured. We can’t go back and extract enjoyment we left on the table from a moment that has already passed. We must be mindful to enjoy what’s happening right now.
I have a friend that lost his wife to cancer this summer. It was very quick from the diagnosis until it was over. The loss left my friend stunned, scared, and hurting. He is still struggling with the grief.
As we were texting earlier this week, he was sharing with me how some people were telling him he should be better by now and others are telling him he should be back to normal. My heart ached for my friend when I read his text that said, “I don’t know. It just hurts.”
I’m sure these people meant well, but I couldn’t help wonder how many of them have ever experienced the loss of a spouse, and how many of them would be going home to their spouse or loved one after talking with my friend.
It’s so easy to give advice about an experience we’ve never had based on how we think we’d handle the situation if it happened to us. The truth is we have no idea what someone is dealing with, unless we’ve gone through it ourselves. Even then, how each person handles a situation can be quite different.
I’ve never lost a spouse, and I’m not a grief counselor, so I don’t know the perfect way to respond to someone who’s grieving like my friend is. For me, I’m trying to show compassion by doing the following:
- Check in regularly via text, email, phone, or whatever the grieving person’s preferred method of communication is. Be sure to do continue doing this after it has become “old news” to everyone else. Chances are it still hurts for the grieving person.
- Acknowledge that the situation sucks, because it does. I’m not saying to wallow there and make it worse. Just let the grieving person know you’re aware of that fact.
- Just be quiet and listen. Let the conversation go where the other person takes it. Don’t worry about needing to say something to fill the silent pauses. Just be there with your ears and heart engaged.
Ultimately, I want to be a blessing to my grieving friend, because I know that’s what I’d want from my friends if I were the one grieving.