Our refrigerator is covered with lots of magnets and, of course, many quotes. The other day someone put a small piece of paper with three lines on it that caught my eye:
Take the long view
As I was reaching into the fridge for something to eat, I began reflecting, which is always a dangerous thing for a guy like me. Those three lines were in my head for most of the morning as I was thinking of using it as a template for the work I had to do this week.
Focus: I have been accused of having ADHD, meaning, of course, that I can move from one thing to another without completion. I must admit that I do operate with a lot of balls in the air and as I considered this word I felt that it addressed me and the need I have to stay on message, keep my eye on the ball, and simply make sure that I follow through with no loose ends, which can haunt you if you don’t do it right the first time.
Take the long view: Just this morning I was listening to an interview with a financial expert, who was talking about the fact that Americans are not saving enough. There are many reasons for this, but one was that they don’t have a long-range plan. Americans want instant gratification; thrift and patience are the exception rather than the rule. I believe one needs to have the big picture. Otherwise, you are simply addressing what comes at you rather than living life with creativity. My grandmother used to say, “Good things come to those who wait.” It sounds like a cliche but as I look back over my life, I was able to persevere to reach some very important goals. Without taking the long view I wouldn’t have graduated college or seminary, or even accomplished crucial milestones in my life.
Act: I was recently talking to someone who was a member of the Staten Island ski club. In fact, he was the president. He was 72 years old and was bemoaning the fact that most of his friends are “on the couch with pills”, meaning that they have stopped acting on things in their life and have become spectators.
Being proactive is the key that unlocks the door. Without that, life happens to you and, in many ways, it even victimizes you. There is a lot to be said about procrastination, worry, and anxiety. There are a lot of things we can’t change but must accept. Regret is really built around missed opportunities – not going for it. There is an old saying, “Hell is truth seen too late.” The truth is, we need to act and do and not wait for tomorrow.
In the end, I find a lot of truth in the words of the great late Jewish theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel, who said:
“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. ….get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.”