The ancient Roman philosopher Horace admonished, “Whatever hour God has blessed you with, take it with grateful hand, nor postpone your joys from year to year, so that in whatever place you have been, you may say that you have lived happily.”
Last night, I had a long talk with a good friend about trying to live in the here and now. The overwhelming theme I walked away with was 'just survive today'. How do I get through today?
In October, we had a church-wide conference, full of talks by various church members and leaders. I chose not to watch at that time. Why? Not because I didn't want to hear the messages, but because we do not know ahead of time topics that will be addressed. Back in October, I decided I wasn't strong enough to handle listening to a talk on 'parenting' or 'raising a family' or 'motherhood'. So, instead, I ordered all the talks on CD. I figured I could listen to them one at a time, in whatever order I wanted. And if there was a talk that I just wasn't ready to hear, I could save it for another day.
My CD came in the mail yesterday, and this morning I skimmed the titles. I paused on Thomas S. Monson's talk, 'Finding Joy in the Journey'. So similar to my conversation the previous evening, I decided to listen to this talk on the way to work.
Halfway through the talk, President Monson repeated the quote written above 'Whatever hour God has blessed you with, take it with grateful hand, nor postpone your joys from year to year, so that in whatever place you have been, you may say that you have lived happily.'
How many years have I been postponing my joy, waiting to start a family, to finally be 'truly happy'?
Thinking about this time of year specifically, how many Christmases have I spent thinking, "Maybe this will be our last Christmas just the two of us" or "By next Christmas, maybe I'll be a mom, or at least have the promise of being a mom soon"? How many Christmases have I mentally counted the number of children I should have by now, the ages they'd be, the gifts they'd ask for, their faces as they sang Christmas carols or saw the lit tree for the first time.
No matter the happiness and gratitude, there is a cloud over every holiday, as thoughts like these take residence in my mind.
I would love to say I have lived happily, no matter what place I was. I am trying to do that, but some days it is just so hard. I feel that sometimes, for me personally, it is impossible to simply choose to be happy. At one time I felt I could do that, but lately I've struggled.
However, I can always choose to try. To pick myself up, and forge ahead.
I am no different than anyone else dealing with something difficult in their life. Good days, bad days, but forging ahead anyway. There are people who have lost a loved one, a job, a friend, a dream. And we are all pressing on. This is life.
Quoting again from President Monson's talk: In The Music Man, Professor Harold Hill, one of the principal characters in the show, voices a caution that I share with you. Says he,
“You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you’ve collected a lot of empty yesterdays.”
So, here's to today, this season, this Christmas, this New Year. Worry about next year... next year. It's a day-by-day, minute-by-minute decision. And just trying is enough for now.