I’ve had the quote, “Forever is composed of nows” on my fridge for a while, and look at it several times a day, wondering what on earth it means. It resonated with me and was beautiful, so I wrote it down and have been mediating on it during short periods in my day. I finally looked up the full poem by Emily Dickinson, and here it is:
Forever – is composed of Nows – (690)
Forever – is composed of Nows –
‘Tis not a different time –
Except for Infiniteness –
And Latitude of Home –
From this – experienced Here –
Remove the Dates – to These –
Let Months dissolve in further Months –
And Years – exhale in Years –
Without Debate – or Pause –
Or Celebrated Days –
No different Our Years would be
From Anno Dominies –
I think that with our big move impending, the line about the “latitude of home” strikes a chord with me. Also the idea that past, present, and future are all only real and experienced in the now. The past is remembered, and rewritten, and the future is only imagined. The only reality that can be experienced is the now, and now, and now. Forever is a string of nows all tied together. If we sacrifice experiencing our “now” in favor of nostalgia for the past or anticipation of the future, we are sacrificing a piece of forever. I am particularly guilty of “killing time” or “zoning out” and not experiencing my nows, especially at the end of a long day or week, by playing on the internet, watching crap tv, etc.
As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.
Henry David Thoreau
As a mom and a homeschooler, it is practically impossible not to fantasize about the future, when I imagine life will be easier. First, I looked eagerly forward to potty training being complete. Now, I look forward to Teddy Bear learning how to read, so that he can be more independent in his learning. It is very hard for me not to look forward.
But, I look out the window and see the seasons chaining…not in a rush but in their own, perfect time. What would it be like if the beautiful fall colors lasted only a moment and rushed headlong into stark and sparkling winter? I hear myself reminding Sophia, as she practices piano, “It’s not a race!” Her impulse is to practice pieces at the fastest possible rate. When she asks me to sing along, I sound like an auctioneer and run out of breath. The beauty of the piece she is playing is not only in the correct order of notes, but in the speed she plays it…now languorous, now harried…but never just to be done with it as quickly as possible.
I remember hearing someone say once how they had their children close together to “get it over with.” I remember thinking that was tragic. Although, there are days where I wish this tantrum throwing, demanding stage was all over.
The next few months will be trying for us as a family, as we coordinate a large move, buy a house, and all the projects big and small that need to happen. It can be tempting to wish these months away and us at the end of the journey. But we’d be wishing away our nows.
There are still dinners to be had with friends here. More walks around the reservoir. Another Christmas in Boston. Tears as we say goodbye. Fights about how best to accomplish everything. Learning to manage ourselves and our emotions. For now, I am going to try to be in the now. Cleaning the carpets, packing the pictures…the now. It’s all any of us are every guaranteed.