"Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans."
I read this quote again not too long ago and it again caused me to stop for a second and think. I've heard it any number of times and it has always struck me as worthy of remembering, though I didn't do anything with it including actually pondering its meaning for me.
So, that's why we have gathered here today, to ponder it.
First, this quote is ultimately attached to a guy named Allen Saunders, who was an American journalist and cartoonist, among other things. Some of us might know of his cartoon work ranging from Mary Worth, Steve Roper and Mike Nomad, and Kerry Drake. The only one I recognize was Mary Worth from the newspaper cartoon pages, and I didn't read it.
Others might want to attach a version of this quote to John Lennon from his song Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy). I didn't recognize that either, nor ever recall listening to this song.
If I were to characterize myself, personality-wise, I'm a person of the future. I'm a person with plans, goals and future states to be pursued. All in my mind. The mind is the only place for the future.
I'm definitely not a guy of the past. I don't dwell on the past. I move on rather quickly. I don't ignore it, but don't spend much time rehashing the past.
And, that leaves the present. I'm a person of the present, of course, but the present is spent with an eye on the future.
I know of those who supposedly live only in the present. That is, forget about tomorrow and live for today. I'm not that person. And I don't want to be this person. I don't envy them.
My current reality is only temporary, but my future state is ever in process.
Each day for the past 65+ years has been filled by the present. Childhood, youth, early adult, midlife, all the way to where I stand today, was chewed up with the demands of the moment, the present.
Yet, my living in the present was only fleeting as I eyed tomorrow. The many tasks of the moment, the present, were pursued with the mind to complete them so as to get on with real tasks - making tomorrow a reality.
Look, I've oversimplified this portrait of myself here for the purpose of capturing my propensity to be somewhat impatient with the todays in anticipation of the tomorrows.
I'm happier with accomplished goals than good process. I get in the car for a trip to get to the end of the trip. I could do without the trip itself.
I would really appreciate the technology of Star Trek's transporters. "Beam me up, Scottie."
I'm sure my then-wife and kids recall in living color my propensity to put miles behind us when going on family trips. "Daddy, I have to go pottie". My response is "hold it for a little longer, kiddo (50 miles later)." Or, "Oh, let's stop at this (name your tourist trap)." My response is "Yeah, that might be interesting (as I drive past the exit at 75 miles per hour).
I guess I can envy a bit those who enjoy the journey, the trip. I too enjoy a good trip, but I'm afraid the pleasure is largely derived from it going smoothly, quickly and according to schedule.
A bit more living in the present and less by scheduling the end is quite an adjustment for types like me.
I can't imagine life without the future where my dreams and plans live. But I would do better by savoring more the moments of a day since my life is comprised of them.
The problem with the future is that it's largely consumed by the present. As the quote says, Life is what happens to us while we're making other plans.
I'm more aware that for me there is less future left to anticipate making the present increasingly more precious.
This fact alone makes me more thankful for each moment in the present.