The only possible way I could have had my unique set of experiences is by living my life as it is, and that means dying when I die.” —Max Edwards, March 19, 2016
Max Edwards was 16 years old when he died from terminal cancer. A week before his death, Edwards wrote about accepting his prognosis and not resisting the truth that his life would end within months. He wasn’t interested in a dramatic response, he wrote, and he had begun to find the routines of life comforting.
Edwards stayed focused on the ever-emerging present, and that made it easier for him to adjust as his body function declined.
Making room in our lives for today means not fleeing to the past and not projecting into the future. Today, after all—in “this present moment”—is where we have the greatest capacity to act.
Angel Kyodo Williams once wrote, “Acknowledging our past is necessary; living in it is a form of escape.” Williams also wrote this: “When we get too stuck in the past or future, the quality of right now suffers. In fact, you miss now altogether. And if life doesn’t happen right here, right now, when does it?”
In my personal and professional lives, I’ve usually been the person on the room who’s most happy planning, structuring, measuring, and scheduling. Life has a lot of fun with that! (I think of the saying “We plan. God laughs.”)
What I’m still learning is how to leave room in my plans for God’s laughter and life’s adaptations. Allowing the present into my awareness without immediately trying to corral it into my timetables and long-term plans—that takes patience I’m not always motivated to exercise.
But I’m learning that I benefit a lot when I pause long enough to pay close attention, to really listen, to really look, to allow myself the space to absorb what I notice and learn from it.
Exhaustion is the result when we use energy in mulling over the past with regret, or in trying to figure ways to escape a future that hasn’t even come yet. Likewise, setting up an image of the future and anxiously hovering over it for fear that it will or won’t come true uses all of our energy and leaves us unable to live today. Yet living this day is the only way to have a life.” —Nar-Anon Family Groups, Helping