It was the champagne that got me thinking.
Which was strange, really, as it usually has the opposite effect.
But it was the bottle of champagne. The bottle that I had walked past every day in the kitchen for months. The bottle that had been left for so long that it had gathered dust. The bottle, which I had generously and thoughtfully been gifted for my last birthday, but which still stood, unopened, with my next birthday almost drawing into sight because I was determinedly and purposefully saving it for a ‘special’ day.
Then I started thinking – what am I waiting for?
This might sound, perhaps fairly, like an excuse to drink the champagne. Which it kind of was. But still. I couldn’t shift a feeling – a feeling that, perhaps, I was knowingly and flagrantly wasting time whilst waiting for that ‘special’ day to arrive.
Later, I was helping my daughter open her advent calendar. At only 16 months she doesn’t need a lot of help. She knows exactly what’s behind that foil and precisely how to get to it. But what she doesn’t know is why she’s been given this glorious treat.
She doesn’t know that she’s having it as a way of ticking off the days to get to another date, a little way in the future. She doesn’t know that the opening of another window means that another period of time has passed on the journey to get to the real reward – Christmas Day.
As I watched my daughter happily discover her prized chocolate, I thought to myself: ‘How often am I doing this?’
Counting down. Pushing aside time to get to the ‘good stuff,’ the nice times, the special moments. Mentally marking hours to the weekend. To holidays. To birthdays. Or even, on a wet, cold Monday morning, the time standing between me and going home. How often do I think this way? How often am I just waiting, looking over the horizon into the future, completely ignoring the here and now.
Like when I was pregnant and locked in those last few weeks before baby arrived, absolutely crawling the wall, imploring the universe to let time pass quicker. I wish now I’d relished those moments of peace and serenity. I wish I’d spent it reading or writing, not pacing and worrying. What about those months leading up to my wedding, when I’d gleefully turn over another page on the calendar, happily crossing off the weeks that stood between me and my big day.
How wasteful. It’s not like I have an endless supply of time on my hands to fritter away so frivolously. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized that the most precious commodity I have is time.
Waiting can be good. It can be exciting. It can build a lovely sense of anticipation, especially at this time of year as we head towards the glorious crescendo of Christmas Day. But in the waiting, we need to make sure we don’t miss the moment. The now.
Because the now is special, too. Here. Right now. In this moment. This is special. We just need to look around us and see.
I don’t want my daughter to learn that life is a constant state of anticipation. She needs to enjoy the journey. Her life is indescribably precious – I want her to feel the richness of every day, even the mundanities. I want her to find value in the ordinary, to see that even on a day beset by problems and worries, even through sadness and unhappiness, she can still find beauty and meaning.
But most of all, I want her to embrace her days and live, truly live, every, single one of them. I want her to completely and utterly throw herself full tilt at life.
One day, that tomorrow we are waiting for, over there in the future, won’t come. Life is what’s happening right NOW.
Buy that dress.
Book that holiday.
Tell that someone you love them.
Write that letter.
Sing that song.
Take that risk.
And drink that birthday champagne.
It’s not about the countdown. It’s about making the days count.