Out of Time

People are often prone to be “thankful” on Thanksgiving for the tangible and intangible things in their lives. Oddly, it seems materialistic to be thankful for the tangibles, yet admirable to be thankful for the intangibles. But what most people fail to acknowledge is the simple thing that brings all things together; the simple thing for which we all fail to be thankful: Time.

There was a Thanksgiving Back to the Future marathon on TNT today. I love those movies, mostly because I envy and fantasize about the ability to go back in time and change the past. But here’s the thing: people are often so preoccupied with the two extremes of time – the past and the future – that they simply fail to acknowledge and appreciate the most important aspect of time: the present. Anymore, people are obsessed with either reminiscing and longing for a bygone past or fantasizing and planning for an uncertain future. But does anyone ever stop to appreciate now? It certainly doesn’t seem like it.

About a year ago, a close friend of mine – a musician – had the opportunity to perform in New York City at Carnage Hall. This is one of the crowning achievements and most cherished experiences in a musician’s career. We spoke on the phone before the performance and the last thing I said before hanging up was, “While you’re on stage, make sure you take a moment to just stop, look around, and drink it all in; appreciate where you are in the moment you’re there.” Essentially, appreciate the moment; appreciate the time.

We are running out of time. What is here now will soon be gone.

My wife and I have fallen in love with the new TV show “This Is Us.” And in one of the episodes, one of the characters – an actor – has been rehearsing for a play for which he has been cast. And in his attempts at understanding the play, he has painted a picture. And there is a very gripping scene where he tries to explain the painting – and life – to his nieces. Watch…

I’m pretty sure I hid it well, but while my wife and I were watching this episode, I subtly cried during this scene.

I think the thing we all seem to forget is the simple fact that life is now – not then. So look around. Look at where you are, right now. If life is great, then drink it in; appreciate where you are – now. If life is a struggle, then drink it in; appreciate your ability to make a change in your life – now. Because either way, your painting is still being painted; but time is running out. Life is not planning; life is not regret; life is not forever.

Life is now. Life is us.

All of us can think back to a time when life was great, and we wish we could re-live a certain moment. But what if we actually took the time to live this moment, now? What if, instead of planning for an uncertain future or reminiscing about a bygone past, we lived – we just lived – right now? The past is full of lessons and the future is full of opportunities. And both of those concepts are important. However, what we do now – right now – determines if our past or our future will matter.

We’ve all wished we could be Marty McFly, pushing the DeLorean to 88 miles per hour and flashing into our past, making whatever changes we could to make our futures better. But the reality is, the only way to change the future is to change the now – and appreciate the now – before it becomes then.

So look around. Appreciate now – be thankful for now. Soon, now will be then; because then was now – did you miss it?

Soon you’ll blink – and everything will change – and you’ll be out of time.