Is it OK to Look Forward to Things?

Some things make me embarrassed to be human: pet clothes boutiques, deep fried Twinkies on a stick, and having spent my spring break at a place where there was a Beef Jerky Outlet.  I don’t like to be confronted with things that shamelessly celebrate our most basic (basest?) desires and our insistence on indulging them.  I at least like to think of myself as restrained, tasteful.  But I’ve learned that when things outside me are irritating, I should probably look inside at whatever is getting its feathers ruffled.  And though beef jerky, even deep fried and on sale, wouldn’t tempt me, many other insta-indulgences would. 

brief jerky

 I struggle with the indulgence of escaping reality, for example, of letting myself drift away from the present moment into what I wish was happening: I wish I could have stayed in bed this morning with Gabe because he’s sick and needs extra cuddling; no, I did not pay attention to sky or the clouds or anyone else in the house.  I paid attention to how much my actual day was going to be an obstacle to what I wanted my day to be.

I’m also sort of a tabloid addict, and if there is anything legal and sober that allows you to escape from reality faster than “Us” magazine, I’d like to know what it is.  I buy clothes that I don’t need and forget what I already own; I want my body to look different than it does, and fail to appreciate what it already is (like 97% of all women–yuck), and I wish that people in general were smarter, kinder, healthier, and more accommodating of me and my desires than they are. 

potential

So I do get how not being present makes you, well, not present.  On the other hand, I very much like the idea of being able to look forward to things, which I don’t know how to reconcile with staying in the present moment.  If there are any Buddhist readers out there who would be willing to share their thinking on this, it would be awesome.  Seriously.

I feel quite strongly about looking forward to things, because when we are depressed, we lose that ability entirely.  Also, I suspect that paying attention to things (the crab apple tree next to our parking spot at Gabe’s day care, the rhododendrons in the Smoky Mountains, the size of Jacob’s feet) has an intrinsic connection to the unfolding, the development, the cyclical nature of that thing.  In other words, paying attention connects you not only to what is happening right now, but what will be happening.  Looking around can equal, or at least allow, looking forward. 

Here are some things that I’m looking forward to right now.  It would be very lovely if you would let me know what YOU are looking forward to these days!  And below, a poem by Christina Rossetti about celebrating the quickening of new love, the heart waking up to joy and anticipation (and a little bit of a happy birthday wish to my lovely sister whose birthday is this week).  She’s getting really old…

FYI:  this poem is sweet to read out loud.

I’m looking forward to:

  • watching Jacob run track in his yellow and red customized Nike cleats (“Mom, they’re NOT cleats, they’re Spike Shoes”)
  • my linden tree blooming
  • the Royal Wedding
  • coloring Easter eggs with a “marbling” technique I read about in a magazine
  • Noah and Jacob’s May birthdays
  • Gabe wearing shorts
  • more green, less gray
  • spring cleaning my carpets

How about you?

A Birthday

My heart is like a singing bird 
Whose nest is in a water’d shoot; 
My heart is like an apple-tree 
Whose boughs are bent with thick-set fruit; 
My heart is like a rainbow shell 
That paddles in a halcyon sea; 
My heart is gladder than all these, 
Because my love is come to me. 

Raise me a daïs of silk and down; 
Hang it with vair and purple dyes; 
Carve it in doves and pomegranates, 
And peacocks with a hundred eyes; 
Work it in gold and silver grapes, 
In leaves and silver fleurs-de-lys; 
Because the birthday of my life 
Is come, my love is come to me. 

almost spring in the Smokies

15 Comments

Filed under love, mindfulness

15 responses to “Is it OK to Look Forward to Things?

  1. I’m looking forward to long warm bicycle rides with the sun beating down on my face, the earth awash in blue and green.

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  2. Shelly Wickwire

    I would say looking forward to things is only fair. God knows we have to do things in the future (near or far) that we dread. Balance.

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  3. Lana

    i am looking forward to the snow melting and temperatures rising above 7 degrees celcius (it has to happen someday!). i am looking forward to the royal wedding too, my mom’s 65th birthday party, and a romantic weekend away with just my husband in may!

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  4. Lauren

    I’m looking forward to the birthday surprise John has planned for me on Saturday afternoon (I’ll keep you posted), opening all the windows in the house, and seeing the ocean again. And the flowering trees.

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  5. I’m looking forward to the Royal Wedding (of course), warmer temperatures and physical therapy for my lumbar fusion. I think it’s ok to look forward to things-that is why God gave us memory. We remember daffodils and fireworks, and birthdays. Peace.

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  6. Elaine Brooks

    I’m looking forward to getting rid of this nasty head cold, the day I shed my winter coat for good and a time when I might actually be consistent in staying in the present rather than consistently looking to the future. I’m also looking forward to Leslie’s next post! It’s good to have you back.

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  7. Gardening….dirt…….screen porch time………….pitching tents……..
    Great post Leslie, thanks so much,
    xo jodi

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  8. oh yea, grilling out more…..julie says!

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  9. Evelyn

    I am looking forward to holding my new niece born the day you posted this! I am looking forward to watching my boys swim and play in the sand while sharing the sunset with my husband. I am looking forward to the slower days of summer. Thank you for helping me take the time to look forward!

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  10. beth

    I’m looking forward to Laur’s birthday, too. I know what John’s surprise for her is! But I’m not telling. I’m looking forward to more time at farmers markets, flowers, clear days, and maybe even a paycheck.

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  11. Lynn Podoll

    I’m looking forward to the time after I have surgeries and physical therapy, when I have no pain in my shoulder(s) and knee(s). Yes, I am a mess, but this too will pass, even in my old age.

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  12. Diane LaDuke

    I’m looking forward to sweaty armpits after mowing,watching my old dog use BOTH of his back legs,my 96 year old father make a mess of his chocolate ice cream cone when the Dairy Queen opens,the look on my boyfriend’s face when I give him 2 tickets to the River City Roller Girls tournament next week…

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  13. Mom

    I’m looking forward to being home again, to celebrating Easter with Lauren and Michael and their families, Holy Week Services, hopefully playing better golf this year at UMCC, AND all 17 of us being together down at Long Beach Island!!

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  14. Colleen Crowley

    I am looking forward to going to Brooklyn with my boyfriend Lee for the first time. I go to Brooklyn often but Lee has never gone with me. We will stay with my friend of 33 years, Tim. I am looking forward to house sitting a week by the ocean at my friend Sydney’s in April. I am looking forward to going to Oregon this summer after two years away. I am looking forward to seeing my dad and aunt in New Jersey in May. I am looking forward to summer in Maine, weekends hiking on Mountain trails and sitting outside watching Lee garden while the cat Charlotte prances in the field. Summer, summer and my grandson, Benjamin Thomas!

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