(Originally posted at The Mess That Is Me 1/13)
One of my family’s favorite places to visit is the Disney Marketplace, or Downtown Disney as I’m used to calling it. It’s a series of specialty shops, restaurants, and night clubs centered around the business of pushing everything Disney onto poor tourists or my family. A lake sits in the middle where visitors can rent paddle boats or canoes. You can even go up in a hot air balloon and look down on all of the delights, not that I ever intend to enjoy that heart-stopping entertainment. The girls love to go through each and every store and ooo and ahhh over the things we’ll never really buy. We’ve worked hard making our home look just the right way and a blender shaped like Mickey Mouse just doesn’t fit the motif. Yet, we go and enjoy browsing, usually making a full day out of it.
On one such trip, I wasn’t really up to the mind-numbing march through the gazillion stores, and yes, I counted them. I took my backpack full of writing and found a quiet spot by the lake and, with a fresh supply of coffee, made myself comfortable for a day of words. I also kept the cash and credit cards on me, not wanting to suffer the debt of their impulse shopping. It’s amazing what they will rationalize purchasing when I am not there to say, “Hell no!” They were nice enough to check in on me once in awhile, offering to get me more coffee. I was smarter than the girls thought and only gave them enough cash for my coffee.
As I sat there enjoying my view and my steaming java, the small area I had taken up residence in began to fill up. Soon, every other table had tourists chittering away around it as they munched snack food quickly, and I had this nice round table that sat four people all to my lonesome. It was good for me, because I prefer to spread my stuff out when I write - my notebooks! Get your mind out of the gutter.
Soon, I was set up and focused on my writing and ignoring the looks of desperate people with no place to sit and enjoy their overpriced churros. That is, until this grandfather needed a place to sit with his four-year old grandson while they enjoyed their ice cream cones before the cold sugary sweetness dripped all over their hands.
The little old man had salt and pepper hair and a gentle smile. How can you refuse a sweet grandfather type? The girls would kill me if I said no. So, I slid my stuff over and allowed them to have the other side of the table. Of course, then I did what any good writer would do; I eavesdropped.
The grandfather just sat, quietly licking at his vanilla cone. That is, he did for all of thirty seconds when his grandson couldn’t hold his questions in any longer. I can understand as the eight-year-old barely lasts that long, either. “What are we having for dinner?” The little boy asked.
The grandfather kept licking his ice cream. “I don’t know.”
“I want hamburgers. Do you think we’ll have hamburgers?” The ice cream is beginning to dribble down the cone and to his hand.
“I’m not sure what we’re having.” The grandfather concentrated on his cone, none of the ice cream was allowed to even drip over the edge of the cone.
“Well, I hope it’s hamburgers. I really want hamburgers.”
And then Grandpa said the words that made the whole scene stick in my head. He wasn’t even looking at his grandson when he said it. “You know, you’re going to worry so much about the hamburgers you want tonight, you’re going to miss enjoying the ice cream you have now.”
Quite often, that’s me. I’m so worried and curious about what’s going to happen tomorrow or next week or even next year, I don’t enjoy what I’m doing right then. I’ve wasted quite a bit of ice cream over the years.
The future will either be there or it won’t. I was going to write, “Enjoy the present, because the future will always be there.” Yet, the truth is, it won’t be there one day. All we really have is now, which is why I eat my ice cream before my hamburger, just in case. I don’t want to miss dessert, after all, and by my waistline, I haven’t missed too many bowls.
It is one thing to plan for the future; it’s another to worry so much about it, it consumes you. Savor the moment. Take your time and breathe in the aromas, hear every little sound, feel every sensation. This is the only “now” you’ll ever be given, so do yourself a favor - make it two scoops and add some sprinkles.
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Until next time, keep chasing your fantasies!