Passing by her to put in my coffee order, she spoke into her phone, “This must be finished today, before my meeting in San Francisco tomorrow! This is the presentation, this is tomorrow, and today is tomorrow. This is the future. Do you understand? We must get this done.” My thoughts circled around perhaps someone in a managerial position. Maybe she was a VP at a big company pressed to meet a deadline. But, I attended to my Latte. After receiving my triple shot, extra hot, large Toffee Nut Latte, I sought for an empty chair, and sat down next to her in the only available chair in that Starbucks.
Still on her phone, she spoke in a different tender tone, “Ok, sweetie, mommy will see you in a couple of days. Yes, I wish I could see you play soccer this week, but maybe next time. Sweetie, I have to go now. I love you, bye bye.” As she put her cell phone down, she mumble underneath her breath, “My daughter, you’ll understand when I am paying for your college tuition.”
As often is my habit, I observe people. I noticed several things about this frustrated woman. First, she was a very attractive woman. Yes, I can say that because I told my wife Kathy about it! lol Second, her clothing appeared expensive. Now, I am not an expert on women’s apparel, but when I see a purse that has a Saks Fifth Avenue logo on it, I am thinking, “Not cheap.”
With that, my coffee, and my Kindle, my mind began to focus upon other thoughts. Then another outburst erupted from the woman that startled me a bit. I thought, “What must be going on in her life right now? What are her pressures? How old is her little girl right now? Is college really such an important concern today? Is the presentation really that critical? I wonder if she enjoys her job at all? Does she enjoy a satisfying home life?” My pondering went on and on over the next ten minutes or so.
At that point she noticed me, as the tables were quite close. “Oh, sorry, I am really stressed today,” she stated in a rather apologetic tone. “No, no problem. Wow, sounds like you’re really a busy person?” I replied pensively. She spent the half hour sharing all the hard work she involved herself in to provide a better future for her company, her daughter, her career, her retirement, and her ultimate happiness.
I interrupted her gently and asked “May I ask you a few questions?” She agreed and I began, “What sense of fulfillment does your job give you now? Struggling she retorted back, “Well, ah, yes, of course, it brings a lot of happiness.” "OK, that's great, but what sense of fulfillment does your job give you today; right now?" I pressed. After at least three minutes silence she responded, "None, none really." It was at that moment I brought up the concept of "living in the now."
I asked her, what do you really want to do today, right now? Her response surprised me, "Well, I just really don't have any options. I have to do this today and tomorrow. No choice." I gently pressed, "Really? You have no other choice? Isn't there always choices?" So, the conversation continued.
Towards the end of our two hour conversation she made a few phone calls. The meeting in San Francisco was rescheduled. Her clients agreed to meet another time. Airline arrangements were changed. And, mom made another call to announce her presence that day at her daughter's soccer game. I can still remember the expression of gleeful emotions exuding from phone from that little girl after hearing the news.
Sometimes, in fact I think quite often, we sacrifice the "living in the now" because of our apprehension of the future. Yet, while planning for the future is wise, none possess any assurances there. What we do possess, is right now. Right now, this very moment is a precious gift each of us reading this blog enjoys right now.
Tomorrow may never come. Yesterday is already past. Now is here. Now presents itself today. Perhaps, learning to "live in the now" is the best investment one can make for living in the future.