Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Wherever You Are, Be There

An old story comes from pre-telephone days when a young man applied for a job as a telegraph operator. He answered an ad in the newspaper and went to the telegraph office to await an interview. Though he knew Morse code and was qualified in every other way, seven other applicants were also waiting in the large, noisy office, who were no doubt equally qualified.

He saw customers coming and going and heard a telegraph clacking away in the background. He also noticed a sign on the receptionist's counter instructing applicants to fill out a form and wait to be summoned to an inner office for an interview. He filled out the form and sat down to wait.

After a few minutes, the young man stood up, crossed the room to the door of the inner office, and walked right in. Naturally the other applicants perked up, wondering why he had been so bold. They talked among themselves and finally determined that, since nobody had been summoned to interview yet, the man would likely be reprimanded for not following instructions and possibly disqualified for the job.

Shortly, however, he emerged from the office escorted by the interviewer, who announced to the other applicants, "Thank you all very much for coming, but the job has just been filled."

They were all confused and one man spoke up: "Wait a minute – I don't understand. We've been waiting longer than he and we never even got a chance to come in."

The employer responded, “Were you listening to the telegraph? All the time you've been sitting here, the telegraph has been ticking out a message, ‘Come in now for your interview.’”

Kevin Kelly said, “The only factor becoming scarce in a world of abundance is human attention.” I wish I could say that I relate to the man who got the job, but the truth is that I often identify more with everyone else in the waiting room. When I have a moment to wait, I pull out my phone or listen to an audio-book on my mp3 player. I am too often more engrossed in my interior world than in paying attention to what is happening around me.

Yet the man in the story practiced a valuable habit – the habit of living in the present. His motto could have been, “Wherever you are, be there.” If you’re there in person, bring your mind along, too. If you're there physically, also be there emotionally. Give your full attention to others (is there really a better gift?).

Wherever you are, be there. Be there as fully as you can. Don’t be fooled by multi-tasking. You are only halfway there when you’re doing something else at the same time. Your mind can fully focus on only one thing at a time.

It's about being present and fully alive in the moment. Some people try to live in the past while existing in the present. Too often they find themselves filled with guilt or regrets and missing the now moment. Others find themselves living in the future, only to discover that anxiety and worry are cheating them out of joy today.

Don’t live in the past – you’ve already been there. And don’t live in the future, either. Tomorrow will be here soon enough. Live in this moment now – it is sacred and unrepeatable. This moment alone holds valuable gifts that should not be missed.

Wherever you are, be there. If you can be fully present now, you’ll know what it means to live.

-- Steve Goodier

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Image courtesy of Audrey Johnson

1 comment:

Susan L. States said...

I live fully in the present each day by knowing each day is the day the LORD has made.