Live for now, not for the past

Published 11:59 pm Tuesday, December 30, 2008

December 2007.

This is what I am thinking about sitting here in December 2008 on the almost eve of 2009. What I’m wondering is “what was I thinking about one year ago?” Surely, there were worries in my head, some concerns about something.

Most certainly I had expectations about the future, pondered what might come to pass in 2008. I probably made resolutions or promised myself I would do this and would not do that.

Here I am a year later and for the life of me I cannot remember much about my worries, concerns, expectations, resolutions or promises. What that tells me is that most of what was filling my head a year ago wasn’t that important and didn’t even happen. And things I never imagined did come into my life without me thinking about them in advance of their arrival.

I also realize there were people who this time last year sat doing the same thing, wondering, planning, resolving, and they didn’t make it to the end of 2008.

Some, like Randy Pausch, the author of “The Last Lecture,” a great book I just finished, pretty much knew their lives would end this year. Others, like my Uncle Johnny, had no idea 2008 would mark their final days on this earth.

Either way, knowing it was coming or not expecting it, this year was their finale. The flip side of the coin is that the ones who loved those people had a life-changing year and now live in a much different place emotionally from the one they occupied at the close of December 2007.

Still others experienced less than positive changes in circumstances that they probably didn’t see coming. Job losses, foreclosures, financial uncertainty — all those things became reality for some unsuspecting folks.

There were happy surprises. Like the one experienced by my daughter’s friends, Maggie and Tom, who started the year as a married couple and ended the year as a family of four. At the start of 2008, the twins who now fill their days and nights were a dream hoped for, but not even an expectation yet.

In the course of a year, people found lovers, lost friends, gained wealth, experienced poverty, were happier than they expected, knew unhappiness they never dreamed of, laughed more, cried more, were sicker, were healthier, felt hopeful when they thought depression was coming, were down in the dumps when they planned to be happy — so many experiences and emotions. And the majority of them not even dreamed of when the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve last year.

So with that going round in my head, here I sit on the edge of one year ending and another one beginning. I am asking myself what I can learn from looking back at my thoughts in December 2007.

Well, since I can’t recall them in any detail, I’m thinking the message is to let stuff go as much as possible because this time next year I probably won’t remember what was bugging me in December 2008. Same goes for expectations, resolutions and promises.

Where does that leave me as I consider the coming year? For my answer to that question, I think I’ll do what my husband says he does, just live every moment of every day doing the best I can do. He says when he does this at day’s end he feels OK about life.

I figure if I do that then when I sit on the eve of another New Year, I will say thank you for being alive, for having experienced a good year in 2009 and I’ll feel OK about life.