When we’re children and teenagers, we try to rush the future. We always want to be older than we are. We don’t want to be 9; we want to be in double digits and 10. We don’t want to be 12; we want to be 13–officially a teenager. We have high hopes for turning 16 and 18, and even higher hopes for turning 21. There are so many age milestones to reach for, and we don’t appreciate the age that we really are. That is, of course, until we get “old.” Then we realize how fast those years go by, and we tell younger people not to rush it.

An email has been passed around for years about getting older. It’s been attributed to comedian George Carlin, but it’s actually from actor and comedian Larry Miller. It captures exactly how we as a society perceive aging.

You BECOME 21, you TURN 30, then you’re PUSHING 40. Whoa! Put on the brakes, it’s all slipping away. Before you know it, you REACH 50 . . . and your dreams are gone.

I’m at the point where I’m putting on the brakes, trying like hell to slow the passage of time. And yet I still have difficulty enjoying the present. Mostly I have difficulty enjoying the moment. I take great pleasure in planning things, but when it comes to doing what I planned, my mind goes elsewhere. If I’m doing something that should be fun, I think about work that needs to be done. If I’m away from Paisley, I think about how I should be with her. If I’m in Florida, I think about being in Boston. The last day of a trip is especially difficult. The flight could be at 9pm, but I’m so distracted by what is waiting for me upon my return and what could happen when I leave, that I can’t just relax and enjoy the day.

I’m working on it, though. If I make an effort to put my mind on pause, I can relax and enjoy myself and the people I’m with. I might need some reminders from people around me, but I can do it. Last night is a good example. I was crazy busy doing chores most of the day. After supper Paisley made brownies and asked if we were going to play a game.

“A game?” I thought. “I have all this laundry to do. I have to reconcile my checking account. I have to file all this paperwork.” But what I said was, “We’ll play after you make the brownies.” And we did.

Then after we played the game, we ate brownies and watched a movie together. I have to admit, however, that my first thought when Paisley said she wanted to watch a movie was, “But I want to watch one of my movies.” I pushed that thought away, though, and watched Kung Fu Panda. And not once did I think about my other movie or the laundry sitting in the washer.

I’m finally learning to slow down and smell the flowers–or the brownies, or the ocean breeze, or the mountain air, or the pumpkin gnocchi. When I stop thinking about all the things I believe I should do and things that might happen without me–and really enjoy the fun things around me–life is so much better.