[This post originally ran in German on Swiss writer Claudia Dahinden’s blog. She agreed to translate it for us here. After you’ve read this, please visit her English language blog too. Claudia comes up with marvelous ways of looking at the world and a life of faith.]
The New Year has already passed its ten days mark, and for a few days now, I’m trying to blog about my “Word(s) of the year“. I’ve started my post early as I was quite certain what my word would be: I have to set priorities to reach all my goals, and the word “focus” came to my mind. As I wasn’t totally happy with it, I let the post rest, hoping that a better word would soon pop up in my mind.
Then, about a week ago, I followed one of my modest New Year resolutions. I mounted my old exercise bike and pedaled for half an hour, realizing with a certain amount of relief that my middle aged body cooperated tolerably. Afterwards, while enjoying the quiet house and my tired after-training contentment, I suddenly knew that I had to change the focus for my word 2016.
Essentially, God told me something like that:
“My dear, this ‘focus idea’ isn’t bad. But when we look at it a bit closer, you’re already doing quite well in this area, and I’m certain you won’t dissipate your energies. My fear is that you’ll put too much pressure on yourself, that you will start your day being afraid that you won’t get enough done and, as a consequence, rush through your hours until you’re mentally exhausted. What you really have to learn is to live in the here and now.”
And he was right (naturally).
I tend to live in my head, and mostly not in the present time. Out of my deep wish to understand my life, to “do better in the future”, I’m thinking about the past, analyzing my actions, asking myself what was right and what wrong and what consequences it had for my life and if this or that was a result of these actions. In the same way, I tend to live in the future, counting all the tasks I have to accomplish today and tomorrow, writing endless To-Do-Lists just to have it all together. And when I don’t live in another time, I often live in another universe – be it the one of my new WIP, that of a movie or one of a novel I’m reading or have read.
As important as understanding my life and planning my actions may be, I had to realize that the tiny moment of “Now“ is the only moment in time where I can truly connect with others and with God, the only moment when I can feel myself and actually live my life. That’s why my “Motto of the year” will be as follows:
“NOW is the time.“
Now. Taking a hot shower in the morning without already thinking about work.
Now. Driving to work through the rain, listening to raindrops and music, without thinking about all my daily tasks.
Now. Talking to someone, being “there“, being interested and open, without thinking about the thing that’s up after that.
When I enjoy “Now“, I’m giving more room to myself and to others, and I’m more grounded. And as an author that wants to create stories, new worlds full of new characters, I need the simple wonders of everyday live. Watching other people, talking, walking through the rain, singing a song, praying − the presence and me living in it, acknowledging it, inspires me and connects with the deep well of my memories and thoughts, creating something new that speaks of me as well as of the live of others because it is rooted in the presence that I share with people and society around me.
I’m looking forward to a year with more “Now“ and less “tomorrow I want to…“ and “why did I… .” And the year has started well: Last Friday, “Now” was a peaceful morning with a singer-songwriter friend in Berne, enjoying muesli, buns and coffee, a nice shopping afternoon and an excellent dinner with friends. I haven’t accomplished much in the productive field this day, but I’ve enjoyed it to the fullest and really had a ball.
I could quote Horace and say that I want to “seize the day,” as he does in his famous poem “Carpe diem.” But although we don’t know how many more winters we have before us or if this will be our last one, I don’t believe that time is envious or my enemy. Thinking about time is helpful because it lets me realize how precious each day is; and as I believe that we only live once, I’m aware that each day counts. I’m sure that our lives won’t end here though, that something new – different, tremendous, uncomprehensible, unfathomable – is following it, but this life has its own purpose and relevance. It’s where I’m living right now; it’s the time that was given to me as a gift, to shape it, to use it, and to enjoy it, to love, to dare, to fail, and try again – to leave my unique traces.
I want to make the most of my time until nothing is left! Will you join me?
Do you have a word or words of the year? What are you dreaming of for this new, still fresh 2016? I’m looking forward to reading from you!
Want to know more about Claudia?
“I was born and raised in the northwestern part of Switzerland and have studied contemporary history. Ten years in administration functions have equipped me with the necessary organizational skills to embark on an independent book and CD publication. I’ve recently returned to my home town where I live with my husband. When I’m not writing, singing or reading, I try to keep our grounds from growing wild.”