A Short Story On Being In The Present
2017 is set to be the best year of my life. This month marks 2 years at Hudl for me, I was employee 221 and now we’re 600+ employees across 15 countries. I also got married in March (a few snaps here) and am currently buying my first house. Dreams are literally coming true.
Humblebrags aside, what’s the point of this post? A few weeks ago I said something like this to my wife (Bonnie), “I can’t wait to get a house, we can fix it up over time and move into a better one! Let’s start thinking about how we can buy 2!! And I know Hudl is 600 employees now, but imagine when it’s over 1,000!!! How many kids do you think we’ll have in the future?!?!?!”. Bonnie said, “Woah! Slow down. Let’s just stop for a moment and be grateful for the present”.
She’s right, I needed a reminder to think about where we are now and celebrate what we’ve achieved. If someone told me 2 years ago that 2 years from now you will have achieved [insert list of stuff], I’d be very happy to hear it. It’s so easy to keep thinking ahead. So, I started reading articles about being in the present and discovered the short story below written by Robin Sharma (from his book The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari). This story summarises the importance of valuing the present moment and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Peter and the Golden Thread
Peter was a young boy who could never live in the moment. When he was in school, he dreamed of being outside playing. When he was outside playing, he dreamed of his summer vacation. Peter constantly daydreamed, never taking the time to savour the special moments that filled his days.
One morning, Peter was out walking in a forest near his home. Feeling tired, he decided to rest on a patch of grass and eventually dozed off. After only a few minutes of deep sleep, he heard someone calling his name. “Peter! Peter!” came the shrill voice from above. As he slowly opened his eyes, he was startled to see a striking woman standing above him. She must have been over a hundred years old and her snow-white hair dangled well below her shoulders like a matted blanket of wool.
In this woman’s wrinkled hand was a magical little ball with a hole in the centre and out of the hole dangled a long, golden thread. “Peter,” she said, “this is the thread of your life. If you pull the thread just a bit, an hour will pass in seconds. If you pull harder, whole days will pass in minutes. And if you pull with all your might, months — even years — will pass by in days.” Peter was very excited by this new discovery.
“I’d like to have it if I may?” he asked. The elderly woman quickly reached down and gave the ball with the magic thread to the young boy.
The next day, Peter was sitting in the classroom feeling restless and bored. Suddenly, he remembered his new toy. As he pulled a little bit of the golden thread, he quickly found himself playing in his garden. Realising the power of the magic thread, Peter soon grew tired of being a schoolboy and longed to be a teenager, with all the excitement that phase of life would bring. So again he held the ball and pulled hard on the golden thread.
Suddenly, he was a teenager with a very pretty girlfriend named Elise. But Peter still wasn’t content. He had never learned to enjoy the moment and to explore the simple wonders of every stage of his life. Instead, he dreamed of being an adult, so again he pulled hard on the thread and many years flew by in an instant. Now he found that he was transformed into a middle-aged adult. Elise was now his wife and Peter was surrounded by a houseful of kids.
But Peter noticed something else. His once jet-black hair had started to turn grey and his once youthful mother, whom he loved so dearly had grown old and frail. Yet Peter still could not live in the moment. He had never learned to live in the now, so once again, he pulled on the magic thread and waited for the changes to appear.
Peter now found that he was a ninety-year-old man. His thick dark hair had turned white as snow and his beautiful young wife, Elise, had also grown old and had passed away a few years earlier. His wonderful children had grown up and left home to lead lives of their own. For the first time in his entire life, Peter realised that he had not taken the time to embrace the wonders of living. He had never gone fishing with his kids or taken a moonlight stroll with Elise. He had never planted a garden or read those wonderful books his mother had loved to read. Instead, he had hurried through life, never resting to see all that was good along the way.
Peter became very sad at this discovery. He decided to go out to the forest where he used to walk as a boy to clear his head and warm his spirit. As he entered the forest, he noticed that the little saplings of his childhood had grown into mighty oaks. The forest itself had matured into a paradise of nature. He laid down on a small patch of grass and fell into a deep slumber.
After only a minute, he heard someone calling out to him. “Peter! Peter!” cried the voice. He looked up in astonishment to see that it was none other than the old woman who had given him the ball with the magic golden thread many years earlier. “How have you enjoyed my special gift?” she asked.
“At first it was fun, but now I hate it.” he responded bluntly, “My whole life has passed before my eyes without giving me the chance to enjoy it. Sure, there would have been sad times as well as great times, but I haven’t had the chance to experience either. I feel empty inside. I have missed the gift of living.”
“You are very ungrateful,” said the old woman. “Still, I will give you one last wish.”
“I’d like to go back to being a schoolboy and live my life over again,” Peter quickly responded. He then returned to his deep sleep.
Again, he heard someone calling his name and opened his eyes. “Who could it be this time?” he wondered. When he opened his eyes, he was absolutely delighted to see his mother standing over his bedside. She looked young, healthy and radiant. Peter realised that the strange woman from the forest had indeed granted his wish and he had returned to his former life.
“Hurry up, Peter. You sleep too much. Your dreams will make you late for school if you don’t get up right this minute,” his mother admonished. Needless to say, Peter dashed out of bed and began to live the way he had hoped. He went on to live a full life, one rich with many delights, joys and triumphs, but it all started when he stopped sacrificing the present for the future and began to live in the moment.