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Signs Of Life

Columns by Pamela Majteles

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53 Days

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Posted by pam on January 14, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Originally published November 2, 2007

Reprinted with permission from Bay Area News Group – East Bay

It’s only 53 days until Christmas. Although it feels like the holidays are already here. Just as it typically feels like Halloween in August and Fourth of July in May.

By selling holiday goods early, retailers get us to look ahead. Most of us, however, don’t need anybody’s help thinking about tomorrow. As parents today, we seem to live for the next moment instead of living in this one.

Parents are a lot like retailers. Some parents start young children in activities early in hopes of yielding returns later. Toddlers in Spanish language classes, preschoolers in Kumon, and kindergarteners in chess clubs. And, like retailers with diverse marketing plans, parents put kids in music lessons, dance classes, and sport programs, scheduled one after another, day after day. (If it’s Tuesday, it must be oboe.)

In some cases, parents simply intend for kids to have fun. But, practically speaking, if you’re constantly busy with activities, there’s not much opportunity to stop and enjoy the moment. It would be like your favorite store holding its big annual sale every day – it’s fun at first, but it gets old fast.

And, truthfully speaking, I have my doubts about the intentions of some parents today, in the same way I have doubts about items being sold at a big discount. (Maybe something’s wrong I cannot see.) By having children do so many activities now, I suspect some parents are really thinking about the future. It’s not unusual to hear parents seriously discuss college choices for their elementary school children. (Don’t we all know that multiple activities and achievements get you into your college of choice?)

Of course, parenting is no different from the rest of life. We regularly focus on what comes next. The next meeting, game, vacation, job, deadline, and election. The next house, grade, trip, promotion, and play date. The next appointment, party, test, and holiday.

We pay a price for not living in the moment. It’s common to commiserate about how quickly time flies. But, when we focus too much on the future, we lose moments now. Those moments slip into hours, then days, and then weeks. Before we know it, our kids are all grown-up and the holidays are here again.

In the end, we may find things do not turn out as expected. It’s like feeling buyer’s remorse after bringing something home from the store. Along with remorse, we may also find ourselves unhappy. If we listen to psychologists today, they say one of the secrets to being happy, as well as relieving the stress we complain about in our daily lives, is to live in the moment. That means appreciating what is here right now.

Right now, I am finishing this column, feeling the cool autumn air through an open window, and hearing the bright voices of my children in a nearby room. I am like a retailer on December 25th. At the moment, there is nothing more to think about.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.

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