I was raised by a single parent. My mother, a hair dresser, owned her own salon and worked very hard. From as far back as I can remember she would be up early leaving for work as I was walking to the bus stop for school, returning home in the late evening long after I had put myself to bed. We rarely went on trips. I don’t remember too many days at the park or movie nights. She barely entertained friends or family. My mother worked too much, never having the time for any of that.
Recently in a conversation I had with my mother she admitted that she doesn’t know how to have fun. She’s at an age where she’s slowing down. My younger brother is the only child left in the house and he’s college bound in less than a year. She’s acquired all the material possessions and financial stability she spent her whole life working for. She’s accomplished many of the goals she’s set for herself. She’s really at a point where she can slow down and smell the roses. The problem is that she doesn’t know how to slow down, have fun, and enjoy life.
I’ve come to find that this is pretty common. It’s amazing how many people don’t know how to slow down and enjoy the present moment. Most don’t even know how to be in the present moment, let alone appreciate it. Western culture is extremely competitive and materialistic. There is such an emphasis on acquiring and success that it leaves little to no room for patience. We are so focused on the next goal, the next new thing to buy that we miss the small simple things that bring us joy. We sacrifice time with loved ones or time for ourselves. In essence we take a lot of things for granted. We assume that if we set aside our loved ones in pursuit of success that they will be there at the end of the finish line. We figure that there will always be time to have fun and that we can indulge later. Yet what happens when we lose loved ones along the way? What happens when we get to the point where we no longer know how to have fun?
Material possessions come and go and success is relative. Those that matter won’t remember you by what you have nor by what titles you hold but by the memories they have of the time you’ve spent with them. Material possessions come and go and success is relative but what is lasting is properly cultivated joy and happiness. So pause, take a deep breath, and appreciate the present moment.