When we wait for something a really long time, it can be easy to expect to be further along than we are. We want to rush the earlier steps and speed along to the later stages we feel will be more exciting than where we are. The whole process is exactly that though, the whole process, and we’ll find ourselves in a better space if we cherish the journey in its entirety.
Training for a big competition takes time, and even when we get to competing in the event itself we can want to jump ahead to the winning part – forgetting we need to compete from the beginning to make it to the end. It might even run deeper than that, competing in age group level competitions, or working our way through the ranks, before we get to what we are really aiming for.
Ultimate (frisbee) is like that for me. I have competed at and been part a winning team at the New Zealand men’s national tournament and the indoor mixed competition, but I’ve never cracked the one I would like to win most: New Zealand mixed nationals. Not for lack of trying, but I’ve yet to put a tick next to it on my to do list. Over ten years into this journey, I’m still putting plans in place to edge closer, and maybe one day, before my body starts breaking down on me from pushing too hard for too long, I might tick it off.
If someone offered me a mixed national championship without having to play the tournament and work hard for it, I would politely decline. It wouldn’t feel like I had earned it. I view it like winning against a team while their best players are unavailable, it would feel incomplete.
Competition is of course only one place where we might want to skip to the end. When we’re just starting out with a career we might see all the lights and fanfare which seem to be coming from where we want to be. As a budding writer and musician, this means people knowing my books and music and sharing them with others. This can only happen if the songs and stories are out there, available for people to listen to and read. Not yet, but one day.
Same thing applies here: if someone offered me the chance to put my name on a book or a song that I hadn’t worked hard to produce I wouldn’t do it. It would feel empty. Plus, I would have missed out on the wonders of travelling the journey to get there. Mistakes teach us what we like, they improve our knowledge and processes, help us work out how to learn more effectively. And getting to know people along the way builds up the team we have around us, as well as show us people we can help along the way.
Enjoy the middle bit. Enjoy the beginning. Enjoy the end of each particular thing when it comes. Don’t spend too much time worrying about where you are in the process. Instead, enmesh yourself in the joy that comes with being present where you are, doing what you’re doing, and being with who you are with.
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What’s next on your list of things?
How can you best spend your time and resources where you are right now?
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The hardest place for me to remain living in the present, is thinking about being married in the future. It’s a big thing, and easy to get carried away thinking about wanting to already be married. We can only live in the moment we are, to be fully present and honour it as best we can.
Today is a gift, that’s why it is called the present.
Peace to you my friends.