The Present Moment and Entitlement

By Carolyn Shields, a very bad student who is writing this in the back of her Medieval Studies class

Post Break Up Fatherly Advice: “Honey, I used to wake up and think, ‘Today is gonna be great. I’m going to make today a good day’ and oftentimes, my day sucked. But if I woke up and thought, ‘This day is going to be rough, but I’m going to get through it,’ the day always proceeded better than imagined.”

This is not what I wanted to hear as I lay crumpled in bed with an entire box of tissues less crumpled on the ground beneath me. I always believed that if I told myself today would be good, well then dang it I would make it good. St. Philip Neri would always wake up and say, “Watch out, Lord, I’m starting my day.”

But guess why the happiest people in the world are the Danes: Denmark simply has low expectations, (they also have extremely high taxes), but 66% of the population claim they are very satisfied with life. 92% of the population enjoys mingling—these people reek of happiness because they understand that ideals and expectations can smother their true identity, which we know is being children of God. This identity should be great enough for us.

But it’s hard to not dream of a faultless personality and beautiful days, of strong hearts and sounding dreams. And I’m not asking you to not dream of them, I’m asking you to give up any entitlement you feel you have for them.

We tend to live with so many beautiful letdowns, and we wake up thinking how beautiful a possible ‘us’ could be. And we may never know. We just want someone to call us sweetheart, we just want to be precious to someone. And no, that’s not asking for much, and you can’t help but wonder when will the day come when you will stop writing his name in your journal, because you can’t take it anymore knowing he doesn’t love you.

But we cannot continue to live expecting that every desire of our heart will be met. C.S Lewis wrote, "If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world." Restlessness is ok. And consider it comforting that it's cyberspacially impossible to have all desire satisfied. On days when it’s hard to get out of bed, don’t tell yourself that today will be great, don’t build up unrealistic expectations. Tell yourself it will be tough because you know your thoughts will be plagued with wondering why he left you, and that work will provide little escape, but you are stronger than the pests that will try to rule you.  And know that it will be ok.

No one is asking you to be brave. No one is asking you to do what scares you.

Embrace any crap because it's a part of life that needs to be experienced. A really crappy part of life, yes, but live a full existence. And you’re not the only one who has trouble getting up in the morning because a heavy loneliness feels like it’s sitting on your chest. 61% of adults over the age of 18 in America have never been married. “We must also remember the great number of single persons who, because of the particular circumstances in which they have to live - often not of their choosing - are especially close to Jesus' heart” says the Catechism, 1658.

It’s hard not to have expectations when we already had a taste of something so beautiful, but remember, all of that, all of those blessings that may seem to have slipped away for the moment, were all gifts. Switchfoot sings, “I’m not sentimental, these skin and bones are a rental,” and how right you are Switchfoot, how right you are…nothing is ever truly ours, and we shouldn’t expect the world.

We are burning with the desire to love. To be known. But why live for the future when we have the right now?

Lige nu. This present moment. It’s the point at which time touches eternity. “Now, and at the hour of our death” are the two most important points of time in our life. We pray this in the Hail Mary. And in The Screwtape Letters by C.S Lewis, the demons try to suck us out of this present moment and make us worry about either our past or the future: “We want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of a rainbow’s end,” Screwtape says, because he knows that humans can agonize over the future because it is least like eternity.

Damn. And to think I’ve got all my baby names lined up but terrorize myself trying to see who I am or where I am in five years. I don’t want this awkward silent mystery. I don’t want to lose myself in the Not Yet. I don’t want to fall for Screwtape’s traps.

We need to live for the lige nu, but first I must roll out of bed, (knowing that though this day may be incredibly tough because I have to relive a few more times that pain from Saturday night, because I have a lot to shoulder) we know that we can knock down these giants another time.