California Deafblind Services

Julie: “Congratulations! So, what’s next?” Lessons to be learned from living in the moment

06/16/2014 09:03

Right about this time last year we were chatting at a CDBS staff meeting about how we were moving into graduation and summer wedding season. I remarked to Maurice—wasn’t it interesting, and a little ironic, that at a time of big accomplishments and new beginnings, what inevitably happens is the person who is celebrating that new accomplishment or next step or great adventure in life is immediately asked about their plans for the next anticipated step in life (college, job, marriage, children, children’s college etc.). Think about it: a young man graduates from high school and at his graduation party, before he can celebrate, rejoice, and perhaps even reflect on that accomplishment he is asked,

            “So where are you headed for college?”

            “Oh, really, that’s nice. What major have you picked?”

“And what are you planning after that? Are you thinking of graduate school or law school or med school?’

As for the newlyweds, once the big day passes and wedding gifts are hardly opened some well meaning relative, usually a nosy aunt asks, “So when are you planning to start a family?” and “Have you decided how many children you want to have?”

Once the first child arrives, you know the next set of questions begins with,

            “So a little brother or sister would be nice, don’t you think?”

            “When are you planning to go back to work?”

            “Where do you think you’ll send her for preschool?”

For some reason in our Western culture we seem to be so very focused on moving forward and preparing for the expected next step or next stage in life that I think we often miss what is happening in the moment. In the present moment there is often a lot to excite us, take pride in, celebrate, and of course there is knowledge to gain from any self-reflection that occurs. I think this type of thoughtful awareness can aid us in being better prepared for the next step, stage, journey, or unexpected detour in life. It is too bad we often miss these opportunities while we speed to get to the next stop in life.

Families of babies and children with significant disabilities, illnesses, medical needs and/or hospitalizations know better than to look too far ahead as they do their very best to cope and move on through life day to day. Some people might look at this as a very unfortunate circumstance, however I actually think there is real benefit to living in the moment and taking life one moment or day at a time. For many children with deafblindness or multiple disabilities, the developmental milestones, new skills, and emerging interests and talents would be easy to miss if one was always planning for the next step, journey, or big event. Families, caregivers, and teachers need to be in the moment with these children to be able to get to know and “follow the child” in order to provide effective instruction and support. It is also true that for these children the place, the people, and the materials that closely surround them in every moment are what the child knows and what has meaning to the child. The immediate present is their world and there is so much to do, learn, and enjoy right there.

The other day I saw a posting on the CHARGE Facebook page of a six-month old baby making his first trip outdoors. It was wonderful to read. Can you imagine what senses were alerted in that child and the feelings the family had as they watched their son encounter a new world? This is a moment, an important one, no need to hurry to plan the trip to the park when you just stop, be present, feel, wonder, and relish what you are experiencing right now.

This is not a bad way to spend one’s days in my opinion. Too often I find that I miss out on experiencing the little things in life or truly immersing myself in a significant moment, both in my life or the lives of close family members and friends, because I am too busy looking forward to or planning what’s next. Sometimes these are once-in-a-lifetime moments and once you miss them, you’ve lost that moment and the feeling, lesson, or revelation found there. So in this season of new beginnings and reaching pinnacles, I am going to make a conscious effort to slow down, be present and aware, and soak in all that there is to notice, learn, and feel, just like I have watched many children with deafblindness and parents and teachers do when they connected and engaged in an activity or everyday moment, like a first encounter with the outdoors.

Has anyone else felt this way about the frenetic pace to move forward in our culture? Please feel free to share thoughts or tips for ways to slow down and be present and savor what can be found in the present moment.



Topic: Julie: “Congratulations! So, what’s next?” Lessons to be learned from living in the moment

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