By Oscar Guzman – There are few moments in my life that I wish I could relive, and there are even fewer things that I regret.
Although I wish I could be seven again, I must realize that aging is a part of life, and I should be more eager for my future than obsessing over my past. Part of being human is that we learn from our past failures and successes so we can prepare for a brighter future. Living in the past doesn’t do us any good, but living in the future doesn’t either. There is a fine line between past and future. What we did in our past may damage or enhance that line, and what happens at the line influences what happens in our future. We must learn to appreciate this line so that we may be thankful for our past and hopeful for our future.
Back home, I was taught the value of honoring time by showing gratitude. Almost always, I would do this before going to bed through prayer – however, I enjoyed it most when doing it at a local restaurant through reflection.
When my father immigrated from Mexico to America, he started working as a busboy at a local family restaurant called Andy’s Restaurant. He has since been working there for the past twenty-eight years as a chef. Since I was young, my family and I would have lunch there on Sunday afternoons. As I grew older, I began to go there more frequently. I would either go with my family or friends, but I preferred going alone. It wasn’t that I did not appreciate their presence, but there was something about sitting at the counter by myself that I found comforting.
Everyone there knew me, and everyone there cared about me. As my visits became more frequent, I started to know the other “usuals” that would go there for breakfast or lunch – many who were of older age. There was one lady in particular that I share an interest with. Her name is Diane.
Diane is a retired teacher. She has such a caring heart that I could not help but gravitate towards her. Eventually, she shared with me her life story from her childhood to present day. Without going into much detail, Diane represents all that is right in our society. She is brave. She is kind. She is ambitious. She is sincere. Diane is a woman of suffrage, and a woman of bravery. Being around Diane and listening to her stories has taught me to be thankful for what was and hopeful for what will be.
Sitting at the counter, eating breakfast, and having time for myself – it could not get better than that. The view is great. The smell is even better. Being there has taught me how to be in the moment and appreciate all that is around me.
After I started college, however, I found myself reflecting less and less. I have been so caught up with school work and building relationships, that I hardly have time for myself. I am not saying that my school work and social life are the problem because in fact they’re the solution. The problem is that I have lost the ability to be in the moment.
When I’m doing school work, I compare it to the work load from high school and worry that it will get worse as the years go by. When I’m around friends on campus, I compare my social life here to my social life back home and worry that my relationships back home will drift away. The commonality between both examples is that I am either remembering my past or worrying about my future – I am not enjoying them for what they are, but rather frustrated for what they were or what they will be.
These examples of school work and social life are my solutions for my inability to be in the moment. I must learn to enjoy my school work for what it is. I continue to complain about how hard my school work is and worry that it will only get worse; however, I should realize that my school work is preparing me for my future career. I must learn to be thankful for the school work from years past for getting me where I am today, and be hopeful that what I am learning today will prepare me to be an influential educator.
Starting college has been one of, if not, the hardest transitions I have had to overcome. There have been many obstacles thrown my way – possibly the most challenging being the adjustment to a new social life. Back home, I had the same group of friends since elementary school. That is not to say that I did not meet new people as the years went by; however, I always had the same friends throughout my life who I could rely on, and although I still can, it is not the same as living only a few blocks apart.
When I moved in, I was left alone. I had partaken in a retreat the weekend prior to move in day, and so I had already moved in before the majority of students. My parents were there when I moved in but weren’t able to make it for actual move in day. And so, while everyone was adjusting, I was already set in my room watching TV. However, a few minutes into Modern Family, and I heard my neighbor arrive.
I introduced myself first to his mom who was standing in the hallway trying to help him settle in. She was very polite and had a mother-like attitude that reminded me of my own mom. While she told me more about her family and asked about mine, I met her son, my neighbor. He had a firm handshake and friendly smile.
Two months later, he has proven to be someone I can rely on and someone I enjoy to be around. In fact, I am lucky to be living where I am because my floor mates are great people who I am blessed to have met. As the weeks went by, it became easier for me to be in the moment when spending time with my friends here; however, I had to first learn how to be thankful for the friendships I had back home and hopeful for the friendships that I will make.
I am thankful for my family. I am thankful for having a roof over my head. I am thankful for the education I am receiving. I am thankful for knowing that I can expect a meal for dinner.
By being thankful, we are acknowledging the separation between past and future. By being thankful, we are honoring our past and praying for our future. One of my favorite writers, Mitch Albom, once wrote, “don’t let go too soon, but don’t hold on too long.” We should not be eager to let go of our past too soon because our past is what guides us in the present; however, we cannot hold on too long because then we are ignoring our future and removing ourselves from changing so that we may live a better future.
Do not let go of what your thankful for too soon, but you must let go eventually and accept reality for what it is so that you may learn how to pray for a brighter tomorrow – a future created by your gratitude and hope.