I had heard this poem read on the radio. I searched for it on the internet and found it. I was very surprised that it was written by a 14 year old and published by Dear Abby in 1989. It seems to be wisdom much beyond that of a 14 year old. He must have been a keen observer of those around him. The poem is called Present Tense by Jason Lehman.
It was spring, but it was summer I wanted,
The warm days, and the great outdoors.
It was summer, but it was fall I wanted,
The colorful leaves, and the cool, dry air.
It was fall, but it was winter I wanted,
The beautiful snow, and the joy of the holiday season.
It was winter, but it was spring I wanted,
The warmth and the blossoming of nature.
I was a child, but it was adulthood I wanted,
The freedom and respect.
I was 20, but it was 30 I wanted,
To be mature, and sophisticated.
I was middle-aged, but it was 20 I wanted,
The youth and the free spirit.
I was retired, but it was middle-age I wanted,
The presence of mind without limitations.
My life was over, and I never got what I wanted.
When we fail to appreciate what we have and focus only on what we don’t have or what we want, we miss out on the love and blessings that we already have. Ambition is not bad, we need the ambition to improve our circumstances but not at the cost of losing sight of where we are and what we have now. It is good to want to improve ourselves. It is good to want to improve our situation, but not at the expense of relationships that deserve our attention. To work so hard for a career that we neglect our family, we miss out on times that can never be recovered.
There are things we should always want. We should always want to be closer to the ones who love us. We should always want to be closer to God. We should always want to grow ourselves and seek our potential. We should always want to be thankful for what we have. We want to be loved, respected, cherished, and appreciated, and we need to give those very things to others. Before we can get what we want next, we must appreciate where we are now. Being in the now is what gives us the direction we need, the steps that we need to take. When you plan any journey, you must not only know the destination, but you must know the starting point.
By nature, we are never satisfied with what we have. We quickly become bored or restless and look for the next thrill or the next challenge to conquer. Contentment is a learned skill. If you don’t appreciate where you are, you might end up like our subject in the poem, never getting what they wanted and never realizing what they had when they had it. Like the old saying goes, you never know what you have until it is gone.
Even when we are faced with challenges, and we all are, we must not forget that blessings we have and the strength that we have, especially when multiplied with the strength of God and others. You were never meant to do it all alone. Connect with the ones you love. Connect with life. Remind yourself of what is ultimately important. Riches are nice, fame is fleeting, but it is the relationships we build that are important. And most importantly, connect with yourself. And, as always, I want the best for you.