Saturday afternoon I was at the bookstore looking at magazines - because I love magazines - and I saw one that had photos of candy corn and other fall things on its cover.
Articles like that give me a rush followed by a sinking, wistful feeling because I so wish it were autumn and why isn't it fall and October! I love it. Why is it now and not then?
This time, though, I thought, “Goodness, that's early,” and then I felt happy at all the good stuff to look forward to while simultaneously being happy it was mid July. That it was a lovely, moderate 88 degrees helped, but still - that was new!
That was major is what it was. I have spent a lot of time looking back and looking forward, doing anything and everything but enjoying where I was.
For the longest time, in summer I'd be miserable because it was hot, and also, hot, and also hot and not fall.
When fall got here, I'd feel anxiety the whole time because I wasn't doing autumnal things and collecting pretty leaves and carving jack o'lanterns and planting mums and tailgating and time is running out and I'm too busy fretting about how fall is passing me by too quickly to enjoy the season and oh, there's Christmas it's just RIGHT THERE I better get out my Christmas books and magazines and make lists and plan plan plan.
When Christmas arrived, I'd be so busy determined to soak it all up and enjoy every blessed moment, dammit, while at the same time thinking ahead to birthday or Valentine's Day or a Mardi Gras party, that on December 26th I wanted to stomp my foot and say, “Wait just a cotton picking minute. I wasn’t done! It can’t be over already.”
Between preoccupation with the next big thing and the anxiety consuming me over worry about missing the current thing that I did just that – miss out on it. I was looking ahead to the next thing and the next and when it came, it was never happy or fun enough as what I'd envisioned - a Norman Rockwell Martha Stewart mash up of fun and joy and glowiness.
Just thinking about it makes me feel anxious all over again.
Last year The Husband and I discovered that one of our favorite parts of the holidays was the night, one weeknight, that he and The Child drove to Greenwood and met me after work. We made a loop downtown to look at the storefronts and the lights. The Child was wearing a Santa cap, we played Christmas music, and went up and down a wide tree-lined street where houses are decked out for the holidays. We went to the Crystal Grill, a downtown restaurant, and it took forever and it didn't matter - that night was such fun. Unplanned, unorchestated fun.
At some point I realized that by looking ahead and planning and wishing and wanting and trying so hard for this to happen and that to happen that I was making myself pretty much, and quite unnecessarily, unhappy.
That dovetailed nicely with finding The Happiness Project and The Years Are Short but the Days Are Long. Funny how that happens.
I watched that little movie, then I watched it again, and again. I got it. It clicked. This is it – right here, right now. This is life. The misplaced grocery list, the mosquito in the bedroom, the lunchtime errands, unloading the dishwasher, telling The Child for the fifth time to get in the bath – this is life.
It’s a choice – a big one, yet an easy one: to constantly look ahead because when I get this, then the life I really want will start, when I do that, then that’s when everything will be great. Or – enjoy.
It’s here now. Already.
This spring I made a conscious decision to enjoy this summer. I thought about good stuff about this time of year, which has a lot to do with food - homemade ice cream, fresh peaches, squash and vidalias, pimento cheese, grilling. Then there’s the singular pleasure of falling asleep to the sound of an air conditioner, fireflies at twilight, my mother’s homemade chocolate pie warm from the oven on Father’s Day, The Child playing in the sprinkler in the backyard.
By making up my mind to enjoy it, I have and I am. How about that.