Proponents of mindfulness tell us not to dwell in the past, revisiting traumatic or difficult times, and not to imagine the future, envisioning what may or may not come our way, but to focus on the now and to live “in the moment.”
We have come to the end of the school year. Report cards are around the corner. Our children are writing their final exams, working on assignments, and trying as best they can, to ensure that their grades are good. Truthfully, as an educator for many years, I can attest to the fact that a test is only a measure of what the student knows or can do at one particular moment in time. One exam or test can never ascertain what the student is truly capable of. It doesn’t take into account what happened before the student entered the class room, what situation may be playing out at home, or how much anxiety the student is dealing with.
College acceptances, landing that job, being invited to a sleepover or special party, are often random events. There may not be any meaningful reason why Johnny was not invited to the pool party. These are events that, as adults we understand, cannot define us. However, unfortunately for our children, they are often pivotal. They influence self-confidence, mental health, happiness and self actualization. A child who for some reason thinks she is not good enough, may behave accordingly, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The Talmud reminds us that, “we do not see things as they are, we see things as we are.” This truly is one of the most important lessons we can impart to our children. Often we misinterpret something and victimize ourselves, when we could choose to ignore it, to let it go, and get on with living. More often than not, it’s not personal. It may be circumstantial, random, or even by design. Sometimes it’s just that Johnny was a better fit for that particular job, the selection committee felt that Sarah wouldn’t be challenged enough in their journalism program, or the B that Mandi achieved on her math test was the best she could do on the day her dog passed away.
All any of us have at any time, is the moment we live in. We can choose to make that moment count, leaving the past behind and not worrying about the future. Alternatively, we can dwell in the past, revisiting the tough times and wondering what we could have done better. If we pay attention to the wisdom of the Talmud, we will strive to maintain perspective, to let things go, to focus on the present, and not to worry about the future.
SUE PENN IS A CONTRIBUTING WRITER TO JLIFE MAGAZINE.