Being Grateful ≠ Being Complacent

Learning the art of enjoying the moment…

Photo credit: Warren Wong on Unsplash

The taste of my turkey club panini rested on my tongue, but the words lingered in my mind far longer. I was getting lunch with my friend, Zac. He’s someone who simply inspires you. That was no different this Tuesday at lunchtime.

The conversation had shifted to dreams of the future and the struggle to live in the moment at times. Then he dropped some wisdom.

“I try to focus on being grateful,” he said.

Simple statement? Yes. Powerful impact? Completely.

“I try to focus on being grateful.”

You see, I’d been wrestling with this seemingly constant struggle between the present moment and the ideal future long before I sat down at the deli that day. These words from Zac were the catalyst for a pretty spectacular journey in my life over the next few days.

A journey of moments.

Waiting for Baggage

As I set my carry-on in the overhead compartment, I realized that I hadn’t set aside any of my usual in-flight entertainment. I went to unzip my bag and grab my headphones, but I stopped when I noticed the long line of people behind me waiting to get to their seats.

“Don’t wanna be that guy,” I thought.

I made my way to my seat and sat down. No podcasts. No books. My phone would soon be on airplane mode. By the time we were in the air, I had read through all the interesting parts of the airline magazine.

And so I watched.

The plane was climbing higher into the sky above Chicago. Clouds were gliding past my window. And then, we made it above them. All I could see for miles was the fluffy white tops of clouds. It was fantastic.

But then I still had no music to listen to.

I noticed a sign for wi-fi on the back of the seat in front of me. I quickly logged on and found that, of course, it wasn’t free. But I could get 15 minutes for just two bucks. “Just a few emails,” I thought. I had become “that guy.”

As I got my information fix, the clouds were still out there. The stillness of the moment was there waiting for me. But I was too busy with Facebook.

Photo credit: Riku Lu on Unsplash

The plane landed, and I grabbed my bag to head out with everyone else. I had another piece of baggage that had been tagged and would be waiting for me on the jet bridge. Except, when I got there, a line had started to form with others who were waiting for their tagged baggage.

And so we all waited.

None of us had specifically chosen to be here. We were all going other places. And yet we waited. I looked at my phone for a few minutes. Then I had a moment of clarity.

I put my phone down and looked at the people around me. Faces. Names I did not know. All going places. All waiting. We shared that moment together whether they recognized it or not.

I grabbed my blue suitcase and walked out. But I couldn’t help but wonder about the lives on that plane and where we all might be headed.

Running in the Rain

My brother loaned me his running shoes, the next in a long line of hand-me-downs he had given me over the years. That’s just part of his job as older brother, I guess. Though, this time, it was my own fault. I had forgotten to pack my running shoes.

We thought we’d beat the rain. We thought wrong.

As soon as we got outside, I felt the droplets pour. But we went on. Somehow, the rain had a nice calming feeling to it.

I began to think about what I would do. I hadn’t packed many extra clothes, and these were going to be drenched. What would I wear tomorrow? But then a drop hit my face. Back to the moment. When you’re running it’s all about that step right in front of you, not the one on down the line.

Photo credit: lucas Favre on Unsplash

We ran and we talked — special moments between brothers. So much of our time together growing up was spent bonding over athletics. I cherish these moments when we get them now.

But soon we were drenched. We thought about going one more lap, but we decided to turn in. As we made it back home, I felt the last raindrops touch my skin. I was very grateful for the rain that day.

The Moment

I’d been thinking about it ever since I heard the news. Ever since I saw his sweet little face in a picture for the first time, I’d been anticipating it. But now, the moment was here.

I was holding my baby nephew for the first time.

He cooed and squirmed as his uncle became a ball of mush. There was no looking back and no looking forward. Just looking down at him.

Then he looked at me.

He looked right at me with those deep blue eyes. I’ll never forget it. I love that baby boy so much.

Grateful. Moments.

Life moves quickly. We’re always on the go. And it’s good to be driven. It’s good to have goals and dreams. Pursue them! Achieve them! There’s so much inside of you.

But being grateful doesn’t mean being complacent. Pausing to take in the moment isn’t lazy. It’s an attitude shift.

There are special moments that are calling out to you each day. Missing them can make it seem like the life down the road is better than the one in front of you. Pausing to take them in? That’s where the gratefulness comes in. That’s when you see that the life in front of you is fantastically beautiful. All from those precious moments.

These moments can come when you’re standing still inside a jet bridge or when you’re running in the rain. It’s being thankful for the moment instead of constantly looking ahead to what’s next. Those things up ahead are important.

But so too are the moments right in front of you.

Photo credit: Tim Graf on Unsplash