Marolt: Celebrating in the moment is as boring as instant mashed potatoes
Show me a man who lives in the moment and I’ll show you a man who talks a lot about the weather and takes his shirt off to do hot yoga. He has learned nothing from yesterday when his picnic was rained out on a day they predicted sunshine nor is he concerned with the day wisdom will come and memories of his own chest bared in public will make him cringe. The concept has been oversold.
Which song do you like best: “Yesterday” by The Beetles, “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” by Fleetwood Mac, or “It’s a Lovely Day Today” by Doris Day? Only a person living in the moment would choose the last one and that would be proof enough that they are delusional. You get my drift. It’s something to consider entering the holiday season.
It all begins with Thanksgiving when we recall the blessings that have been given us, not least of which are the people in our lives, and mostly the ways they have loved and influenced us throughout our past. The season ends with New Years Day and us vowing to be better people in the future. Christmas is in the middle and embodies the zeniths of anticipation and reminiscences perhaps more than any day all year.
The only tenuous moment in the whole holiday season occurs right after the presents are opened and before everyone starts to get the house back in order for family and friends gathering for the big dinner. There is invariably a lull that lasts for about an hour when everyone sits around in stunned silence asking themselves, “Is this all there is?” That is living in the moment during the holidays and it is a little depressing.
Living in the moment requires effort and concentration without a lot of result. If I sit here and judge myself too positively this instant, it’s worthless vanity. If I’m too harsh, then I lose hope. Without markers from the past or targets in the future, I have no references and I drift.
Contrary to modern juice bar chatter, the moment is not all we have. Oh no, far from it. If you think about it, a universal fear is the prospect of completely losing our memories. What if you couldn’t remember that special teacher you had in second grade? Or, where you went to college? How you met the love of your life? Your children’s names and faces? Yeah, we don’t need to dwell too much on this.
Life wouldn’t be any better if we weren’t able to envision the future. What if you had no aspirations? What if you didn’t have a dream job in mind? Plans for travel? Looking forward to discoveries that could change the world? No, we don’t need to dwell too much on this, either.
I’m going to go a little rogue on you now. Many experts tell us that to get through the holiday season in good shape we need to forget about unrealistic expectations; forget the Hallmark stories, the Norman Rockwell paintings, the visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads, and most of all the photo-shopped memories we have of the perfect family gatherings that we wished for but that never quite happened.
I say go for it! Expect the most you possibly can for this holiday season. Forget the boredom dressed up as tranquility in the popular ethos of living in the moment. Selectively draw upon the best times from holidays past. Transpose funny things that happened at random times in your life into one made-up Christmas Eve when favorite aunts and uncles who weren’t there are there now and behaving perfectly jolly. Imagine the best intentions of your parents on those special days and forget the dry turkeys, lumpy gravies and egg nog gone sour. Feel the hugs and drown out the arguments with favorite carols sung next to a smokeless fire by crooners long gone. This is your past. You get to look at it the way you choose! Based on this altered history, set your sights for this year as unrealistically high as you dare.
I know what you are thinking: This is a recipe for disaster, right? If you expect too much, then the holidays are bound to be a disaster. And to that I say, so what? No matter how bad things may turn out, think of the joy of anticipation you will have leading up to the epic fail. Then think of the crazy memories you will be creating when everything turns out differently than planned. Best of all, it gives you something to shoot for next year. After all, hope for the future is what matters most of all.
Roger Marolt loves sugar so much that he suspects he might be an elf. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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