Before heading to the basement in my folks home for a much-needed workout, my father asked me to check out his new workbench light while down there.
The electrician had been at the house Saturday to do some work.
I absentmindedly acknowledged him, descended the stairs, and selected a program on the treadmill.
Then, I started to dwell on how hard I had to exercise since I’d been eating myself silly during this pandemic. Dwelling on that was followed by dwelling on the plethora of work I had on my plate and how I planned to tackle my Tuesday. Then, I was trying to figure out why my dog has been agitated, high-strung, and clingy—I increased my speed and transitioned into a light jog.
The questions and thoughts ping-ponged in my mind: What did I eat today? Did I work out yesterday? How many meetings do I have tomorrow? Can I wear my baseball cap? When can the pup and I walk again? This heat is dreadful. I promised my friend a phone call tonight—shoot, it’s getting late.
My mother startled me into reality with the flick of a switch—light literally dawned on me.
“Did you see your Dad’s new workbench light?” Shoot! Yes, I was supposed to check that out! She was so excited.
“That’s great,” I replied, and suddenly felt really bad that I had forgotten. After half-listening, unconsciously saying yes to my father, and then heading to the basement, I became totally self-absorbed.
We talk about living in the moment and being present. It makes for great quotes and memes. It’s how we intend to start every day. And it’s how we close the evening, asking ourselves if we can do better tomorrow.
I’m the biggest proponent of this—and I realized tonight that I fail more often than I succeed.
My father’s workbench light was not relevant tonight in my mind, yet it was so important to him. Every home improvement, daily adventure, and physically distanced interaction is relevant to my parents. And though I see them most days, I questioned how present I really am. Just because I visit, am I really accessible? Just because we talk, am I really listening?
The next time someone close to you asks for something, pay attention. Put your needs aside, live in that moment, and give them the feedback they asked for. If tomorrow never comes, these will be our regrets.
Be present. Today.