January 25th, 2013
| Supporter: Glioma
Do you tend to look towards the future, or reflect on the past? In this guest blog post, Susan reveals how a friendship taught her how important it is to achieve a balance between the past and the future in order to truly live in the present.
Winter is a time of reflection for me. The warm fall days - leaves crackling under foot and bright orange and yellow colors - have given way to the snappy crunch of snow and ice-cold whites and grays of winter. The year-end push to "get things done" gives way to a New Year mentality of focusing on what's ahead.
January feels both manic and sleeplessly slow at the same time; the push/pull, yin/yang, look forward/look back of entering a new year after a relaxing end-of-year sleep. For me, the relaxation of the end of the year slowly turns into a reflective review of the year past to prepare for the upcoming year.
As I Reflect...
I think about my friend Eric who had a glioma of the brain stem. While I think of him every day, I think of him more in January because I am reminded that this is a new year of opportunity and promise and one for which he isn't here to be excited. Eric was the eternal optimist with a million plans for the future - always positive and excited. He greeted the New Year with such enthusiasm and excitement. We were a great balance as he always looked forward in January and I always looked back to reflect; yin/yang.
I also think about the children and families at Memorial Sloan Kettering where I volunteer in inpatient pediatric oncology. Their struggles against the nasty disease known as cancer remind me how blessed I am to have my health; yin/yang.
As I move forward...
I think about the past while planning for the future and I remind myself of this saying from Lao Tzu: "If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present."
We live our lives seeking harmony, and we seek friendships, activities and situations that naturally help us achieve this balance. Eric's forward-looking optimism and excitement, balanced by my backward-looking reflection, ultimately led us both to a calm stasis. Collectively, we were living in the present.
So as I reflect upon my past experiences with Eric, I learn lessons about what I can do in the future in order to achieve the balance that he taught me. In doing so, I hope that I can increasingly build a life where I always live in the present.
Do you feel like you are truly living in the present? What tips do you have to share?
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