Thursday, November 25, 2010


“Enjoy the moment”

How many of you sit around the table during the Thanksgiving meal and take turns telling everybody what you’re thankful for? We’ve done it a couple of times. The comments go from sappy to irreverent. The four brothers aren’t going to share an emotional moment with anyone. Particularly not with family.

The women folk generally come up with something thoughtful and sweet to say. At some point, Big Al will put the palm of his hand to his mouth and make a tooting noise. That’s pretty much why we’ve been avoiding the Thanksgiving “thankful moment.”

Some of us have trouble coming up with something to be thankful for. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve been there. And, I go back there way too often. Has to do with focus.

I’ve written a bunch of articles about my childhood, about teaching and vacationing. And in almost every article I’m remembering the good stuff. The happy moments.

The scary and sad thing is that during all of those good times, I didn’t fully enjoy the moment. As a child I had fun, but there was a lot of dread floating around in my brain that made me somewhat stifle the moment of the fun.

I had great kids when I taught and had some super moments, but I was too often focused on the class preparation, the things that might go wrong, the grading of papers, and the few kids that were too often disruptive. I couldn’t let myself fully appreciate the moment. Years later I’m appreciating ‘em big time.

I believe I’ve mentioned an incident once or twice that occurred during a televised college football game. It was the Rose Bowl a few decades back. USC’s coach John McKay was giving instructions to his quarterback for a final play. He had a microphone on him so the entire country could hear the play. They wisely don’t do that nowadays.

It all hinged on this one last play. The quarterback (I can’t remember who it was.) received his instructions and turned to run back onto the field. McKay yelled the player’s name. The quarterback stopped to receive one last order from his coach. McKay calmly said, “Hey, enjoy the moment.”

Last play of the game; you’re in charge; the crowd is screaming; you win or lose based on what you’re getting ready to do. -- Enjoy the moment? – My focus would be on trying not to mess up. “Enjoying the moment” would be the farthest thing from my mind. Yet, what better thing could you possibly tell someone? (By the way, USC won the game on that play.)

How many people do you see who appear to hate the moment? Kay was sitting at the dining room table when I entered the room the other day. She said, “Are you okay?” I told her I was, and asked why she asked. She said, “Well you just groaned.” I had no idea. I even questioned her about it. Here I am walking around groaning without even knowing why.

A day or two later, she asked me what was wrong. I said, “Nothing.” She said, “Well, you just said, ‘Shoot!’ like you were upset about something.” I’m sure I was, but I have no idea what it was that disturbed me, nor do I remember saying anything. Enjoying the moment? Apparently not.

Too often I’ve got a horrible focus. And, I don’t think I’m alone in this. Think of all the fun moments we lost through bad focusing. One day they’ll show up in our memories as fun, but just not at the moment. Makes no sense.

So, at what time in our lives do we take a moment to recognize the moment? I tell you what let’s do it as soon as we finish this article. And, this Thanksgiving, whether are not we have the “what are you thankful for” discussion, let’s all concentrate on enjoying the now. It might require some serious focus, but I’ll do it if you will.

You’ll be grateful to know that there will be no collection plate passed after this sermon. And, that’s good, ‘cause right now, Big Al has his palm over his mouth and he’s making a tooting noise. Hey, it’s what he does. – Regardless, from my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving. Sappy sounding or not, I love you guys.