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What Can Be Gained If We Learn to Pause and Savor Life 

I can hardly wait until I can go to kindergarten. I am 5-1/2 and going on six. I can hardly wait until Christmas. I can hardly wait until my next birthday. I can hardly wait for summer. I can hardly wait until I start high school. I can hardly wait to get my driver’s license and drive. I can hardly wait to start dating. I can hardly wait to get married. I am working now and I can hardly wait to retire.

Do you get the feeling that someone was wishing her life away? Years later, do you think I tell people that I am now 66-1/2 and going on 67? I barely breathe that I am in my 60’s. I rarely give much advice but if anyone were willing to listen, I would tell them to savor each moment of your life. Enjoy where you are in the present, relax and slow down. I did not realize what I was doing at the time but looking back, I now see a foreboding pattern. For example, it is similar to when you start paying on a 30-year mortgage or some other long-term commitment. I do not think you should tell yourself, once we get this paid off, then we will really be able to sit back and enjoy ourselves and be happy. In other words, life’s happiness should not hinge on I can hardly wait until the next 30 years are over so we can get down to really living life like we want. Try to take things in stride and relax and enjoy the ride rather than turning your life into an arrangement. You should try to live happily ever after in the present. Does that make sense?

I have finally come to realize that all of life’s events and obstacles are merely stepping stones. I wish someone would have told me that years ago. Actually, someone probably did but I most likely scoffed it off in my adolescent cavalier way and went on wishing and hoping for the next best thing.

Now, years later, I realize that every day is a gift and I live every second to the fullest. Sure, I must admit it is easier to accomplish this now that I am my own boss. I no longer wish the week away longing for the weekend or wish the day away longing to get home at night. I finally have stopped to smell the roses along the way and savor every moment something I should have done long ago.

I sometimes ponder and wonder, though, if I should blame myself for wishing time away. I notice that most disc jockeys on the radio constantly banter, “we’re playing your songs and getting you through your day,” as though their job is to make your day fly by. Why would I want the day to fly by? What difference does it make? Really, if I am enjoying myself, it seems like I would want the day to last forever. It is just like when you go to a concert or a movie that you love or spend time with someone you adore and you wish that this time would go on forever.

I am grateful to be at this point in my life as I no longer race in my car to get to the next red light. I even find myself getting into conversations with strangers in parking lots, stores or other public places. Just the other day, I met a lady in a parking lot and we could not stop talking. “How do you like your little car?” she asked. “Me? Was she talking to me?” From there, it seemed that we had so much in common that we should be friends. It all started because she simply asked me how I liked my car, a model that she also owns and we started comparing notes and then branched off into other conversation finding that we share many mutual interests and hobbies. Darn, I should have gotten her name and phone number. We could have gotten together for lunch. When I was a kid and my mother would engage in conversation with someone in a similar situation, my impatience would soar. I would think, Mo—-ther, could we please get going?

Later, as I was driving home and chuckling to myself that I was beginning to remind myself of my mother, I felt as though someone was laughing at me. I think it might have been Mother. Guess who had the last laugh.


Lillian Gatzman is a loyal Sunday Paper reader.


This essay was featured in the Jan. 27th edition of The Sunday Paper, Maria Shriver’s free weekly newsletter for people with passion and purpose. To get inspiring and informative content like this piece delivered straight to your inbox each Sunday morning, click here to subscribe.