Be Present

If life were a game of Jeopardy and the answer was “Live in the moment,” the correct question would be: What is the secret to enjoying life to fullest?

Everyone from priests to therapists urge us to, “Be Mindful,” “Enjoy the Process,” and be present to whatever it is we’re doing instead of rushing around mindlessly checking things off our to do lists without taking time to enjoy the things themselves.

It’s advice I was able to put to good use during the past few months as my family and I prepared to celebrate my parent’s 50th Wedding Anniversary. As an only child, the responsibility to plan and execute the event fell squarely on my shoulders. It’s a responsibility I considered a privilege.

If ever there’s a time to enjoy the process, it’s when you take a year of your life and use it to plan a four-hour event.

Thankfully, I had someone by my side the entire way to organize what had to be done and see to it that I didn’t go through the process alone. Yet, when things got out of control, my first inclination was to do more.

For instance, I wanted to produce a photo montage set to music, that included pictures of everyone in attendance. The plan was to show the DVD right after the cocktail hour. It was a way to make our guests feel welcome and show them how much we appreciated them sharing the day with us. In order to do this, I asked everyone on the guest list to e-mail me their picture. Most people quickly complied with the request. Others came up with excuses ranging from “I don’t have any pictures of myself,” to “My pictures are locked up in a box that I can’t get to.”

“Enjoy the process,” I reminded myself.

Despite the pitfalls, I was able to gather the photos and put the final touches on the video with three hours to spare. When we played the DVD at the party, you could cut the emotions with a knife.

Some people cried, some cheered. And I silently sat back and realized it had all been worth it. Not only was the payoff great, but knowing how difficult it had been to get to that moment, and having been mindful through the difficulties, made the results that much sweeter.

I can honestly say that not once did the words, “I wish it was August 26th” — the day AFTER the party — ever leave my mouth during the months of planning. Each time the thought would sneak into my head, the small, still voice inside my heart reminded me that enjoying the process was many times more valuable than the outcome.

As expected, the party went by at lightning speed. Some things didn’t go according to plan. But at the end of the day, everyone had a great time. And I will be eternally grateful that I took the time to enjoy the craziness of the year that went into planning it.

Thanks to being fully present during those moments of madness, the party will live in my heart forever.

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