Living in the present has always been something that I have struggled with. All through high school, I wanted to be an adult. Could not wait to have control over my own life, make my own decisions. I wanted escape and go to college. I wanted to have control over my life. College was filled with looking ahead to the next semester or the next break, always having hopes for what the change would bring. I also remember spending a lot of time reminiscing about the past, wishing I had enjoyed the simplicity of my childhood, longing for the days where my biggest battle was fighting with my parents about my curfew, before lives got complicated, before paths were chosen, roads left unexplored. I was always either looking back or forward, comparing what is now to what was or would have been. I never stood still and enjoyed the present. I was always regretting, wishing, or wanting to change something. I overworked myself for the future. Most of the time I was unhappy waiting for something to change, waiting for the next stage of my life. Things will be better, someday, I always told myself.
It wasn’t until the last few weeks of college, overwhelmed with senior projects, final exams and Peace Corps applications that my best friend and I began to discuss that maybe the answer isn’t in the future. Maybe it is in the now. I remember it clearly, sitting on the porch of Rennies on a Sunday night, filling our pint glasses with our third pitcher of liquid wisdom, complaining about all that we had to do, wishing it to be over with, so we can move on to the next stage of our lives. As we were talking, it dawned on us; we were two 23-year-old women, lucky enough to be in college. That out there, in the world, there were people wishing they were lucky enough to be us. That we were in college, we had money to go and grab a pitcher or three if we so desired. We could wake up tomorrow and go to class, or not. We had jobs that paid the bills, but that didn’t run our lives. We had enough free time to do what we wanted. Our lives were the green grass that someone else envied, and we are wasting it by sitting here and wishing it away. There would be a day when we would wake up, five years down the road and would wish that we were still in college, would wish that we had enjoyed what we had when we had it. Had not wished it away, had not wasted so much time looking forward and worrying about the future. Planning for what came next.
We decided that we needed to enjoy our green grass instead of always being envious of the grass of what could be. We needed to enjoy what we had now, before it was too late and became something we wished we wouldn’t have taken for granted. Our mantra for that summer was “enjoy our green grass”. Times were trying, hearts were broken, serious life decisions made, but we didn’t complain, we enjoyed every minute of it, whether it be through heartache or happiness.
My good friend JT and I watched the above video one night this past July and spent the rest of the evening chatting about the point of life and how best to spend the time that we have. We discussed the absurdity of working so hard towards an unknown future all while missing out on the joys of daily life. I shared with him, Anna and I’s green grass mantra we had come up with the year before and he appreciated it. We decided that rather to live each day like it was our last, each day should be lived and not wished away or regretted. One can never know what might have been, but one can know what is now. And the now should be appreciated.
JT passed away a few weeks after sharing this video with me, and I know that he lived his last days. That he enjoyed them. Took chances but at the same time just enjoyed being, enjoyed his green grass. As I sit here in the DR, I remind myself every day to live. To be present. To enjoy my green grass and soak up every moment. I cannot change decisions already made and I cannot know the future. All I have is the present and I must appreciate it. Some days it is hard to not look back or forward, but when I do, I remind myself of what JT and I discussed and Anna and I’s mantra. I then take a deep breath and remember, I am living on a tropical island and am in the Peace Corps. This will not last forever and I must enjoy the green grass while it is mine to enjoy.