Monday, May 13, 2013

Little Things: Syracuse, More Thoughts on Being Present

1. east coast spring flowers
2. colorful wine opener found on the floor
3. Maddie's graduation tassel
4. party aftermath 
5. Otto, the school mascot. Mine has 3 legs, he's the luckiest, I think. 
6. ceremony program

     Over the weekend we flew to Syracuse, New York to celebrate my sister Maddie's college graduation. After two flight cancelations that left us stranded in Chicago for five hours, Scott and I landed in the rain and joined my family at Maddie's old and charming house with a narrow staircase that creaked and dark wood floors, sticky from spilled drinks, for a party (it should be noted that my mom and dad were the only parents still there partying it up).

      I thought a lot about being present this weekend and what that meant. It was an especially important time to be in the moment and keep the experiences-- the sounds, the smells, the smiles, the jokes, in a permanent place in my mind. 

     More than worrying about texts to respond to or getting through my twitter feed, I worry about accomplishments. This keeps me from being present more than anything else. There is an urgency I allow to follow me around and an anxiety that tags along with it. 

     I want everything to be a certain way and I want it now. "Forget about the process", some part of my brain says. I should be publishing a book, getting barreled in Indonesia, reaching my goals because I might have a family soon and my attention to those goals will be divided. I could die. And even more trivial than all of this are the worries like that bookcase needs to be painted white, those cabinets replaced. Now, now, now! so I can breathe a sigh of relief and sit and read a book, waste away a Wednesday doing jack-crap-nothing.  

     Here's the thing, self (I wrote in my journal one morning in Syracuse): You will never check everything off your to-do list and you need to be ok with that. You should be glad about it. If there was ever a day when everything was done, your goals all met, your house completely in order and finished, no trinkets to be added, no walls to be repainted, it would be a sad one. It is good and important to always be working towards something, to have things you need and want to do. So don't freak out about the amount of things on your list that aren't crossed off. Read that book, take off a random Wednesday. Get lost in conversation with someone when your sink is full of dishes and your inbox overflowing. There will always be time for chores. Dreams won't run off without you, either. There's time for dreams if you're willing to chase them, a story to tell if you're willing to tell it. So stop, see what's in front of you. Taste those breaths you're breathing in. This is your life, your only one, and there will always be "dishes in the sink, cabinets to be painted, emails to respond to, books to be written", God willing. 


  1. Sounds like you had a great weekend, and I think it was great that you were "present" for it. It reminds me of when I went to see an author speak and read a book - he insisted we take pictures of him before hand, he wouldn't let us take pictures while he was reading/talking to us. He wanted us to experience the moment, not document all of it. I think about that a lot when things are happening. And sometimes when nothing is happening and should be happening. :)

  2. More wise words from the wonderful Devon... whom I shall hug in a few short weeks! Eeeek!

  3. Hello, I've never posted before, but this is EXACTLY what I needed to hear today - I've been in a bit of a funk lately, so thank you!!

  4. Glad you finally made it there and enjoyed your time with your family. I love that quote with those pictures!!

  5. A wonderful post Devon. The last paragraph completely resonated with me. I find myself getting more and more anxious about everything that there is to do, making lists, panicking. I must stop! Thank you for sharing these thoughts, you have helped me more than you know.

  6. such a great reminder to keep close.

    and happy grad to your sis- mine graduates next week! so exciting!

  7. The last paragraph of this beautiful post really resonated with me. It's really hard for me to slow down and a difficult pill to swallow when I can't get everything done or do something now. It's a constant struggle not to yell at the husband for leaving dishes in the sink after I've put all the dishes away or not to be disappointed when I don't do something on my to do list. It's a truly different perspective and strength to see things this way....-Jessica L

  8. Wow. I don't even think I can process this enough to write the coherent comment something this beautiful completely deserves. Truly inspiring, thank you Devon. Congratulations to your sister on such a major achievement!


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