Friday, April 27, 2007

Simulation (My First Ever Non-Humor Blog)

Imagine that you are given the opportunity to enter a simulation program that allowed you to seemingly go back in time. You would be transferred into your young body during your senior year in high school, or possibly another time in your life you enjoyed. You wouldn’t actually be going back in time; since it’s a simulation, you could do anything you wanted without worrying about how it affects your future. You would be allowed in the program for one week.

What would you do?

Of course, the answers are individual to everyone. Hang out with some friends you’ve lost touch with. Enjoy the Mexican pizza from the cafeteria you liked and haven’t eaten in years. Play your heart out in band practice, as it’s the first time you’ve touched a trombone since high school. Make sure to say “hi” and even hug that favorite teacher that actually passed away five years ago. Take in all the sights, sounds and smells of the Friday night football game. Drive around proudly in that piece of crap car you had that you now miss. Maybe even ask that guy or girl out that you never had the courage to way back when.

Now imagine that at the end of the week, the simulator made a mistake, and you were stuck in it another week, but in someone else’s life. The simulator made you a pastry chef in Paris, France circa 1950. You never had any desire to have such a vocation, but you have no choice: you have to remain there for a week and then the simulator would safely let you exit back to your normal life.

What would you do?

Again, the answers are individual, but certainly most people would make the best of it. Get up early, smell the Parisian air, make those delicious pastries, and serve the French customers. When you were finished with your workday, you’d go exploring old France! Walk the cobblestone streets, see the sites, drink at the pubs, and meet interesting French people. You’d take it all in before the week was over, possibly not wanting to leave. At the end, though, you would have to.

In both scenarios, you would make sure to enjoy every minute that you possibly could in the simulation. You know it is temporary, and there is no effect on the future, so you’d make sure to see every sight, hear every sound, and smell every scent.

Now ask yourself: do you put this much attention into enjoying the actual moments in your real life?

Why would you enjoy the high school simulation more than the moments when you were actually in high school? Did you take it for granted? Were you worried about achieving some future happiness instead? So many people put off being happy, or even paying attention to the moment they are in, for some perceived bliss in the future:

I can’t wait until we move to that new neighborhood!

It’s going to be so great when I finally graduate college!

My new plasma TV will be delivered on Wednesday!

When I get that promotion, we’ll be living on easy street!

I sure can’t wait to retire…that will be the life!

However, how many times do you reach a goal and find out it’s not all you thought it would be? Or perhaps it was, but you were too busy thinking about the next goal to pay attention? Are you actually living your life? Are you paying attention?

Every moment you have is precious. Even now, as you are reading this blog, amazing things are happening all around you. Maybe it is simply your young daughter learning a new word, or a bird laying eggs in its nest outside your window, or just light jazz playing on your stereo…but this moment is not ordinary. It is unique and will never ever happen again.

So what if you are not in high school anymore? So what if you can’t walk down cobblestone streets in Paris? When was the last time you took in the moments of your “right now”? When was the last time you took a walk down your own street?

In many ways, this life is like a simulation. We have no idea why we are here and why there are certain rules like gravity, respiration, fluid and thermal dynamics, and temporary existence. However, we have no choice but to live in this simulation, and therefore we should always make the absolute best of it. Stop stressing over some future plans for happiness. Start enjoying your life’s moments now!

Are you paying attention?

(This essay was in no small way inspired by the movie “Peaceful Warrior”, which I saw about a month ago. Many of the ideas have been rattling around in my head for years, but the movie helped me put it together. While the movie is not a masterpiece, it is still very good and, more importantly, delivers an excellent, possibly life-changing message. I highly recommend it. For those that came here expecting my normal humor-based fare, I promise I will return to immature bathroom jokes in my next writing effort.)



  2. Thanks Joe.

    I remember sitting on a San Diego beach a couple of years ago when something hit me. I had for the longest time worried about dying young. Worried what my children and husband would do. Worried about all those around me.

    Then one day I realized I needed to stop worrying about all that and just live my life. Make those small moments count. Find joy in the life I had been given.

    As I sat on that beach I realized I hadn't been thinking about wearing a swimsuit and how I looked in it. I was having a blast with my children. Watching my son dive under the waves for shells and actually doing it with him. Exclaiming about the beauty of what we saw with my daughter. Smiling as I watched my youngest refusing to go in the water, but digging for all he was worth in the sand.

    On that beach I realized that I had stopped worry about death. I wasn't even worried about how I looked because had finally made it to the point I was living my life.

    I needed that reminder again - not because I have been worried about death, but just because I need to start enjoying those around me more. Thanks.

  3. Thank you Airforce Mom!

    Yungmom, that was a wonderful story. It is funny, I too had an epiphany on the beach. It was 1999. My old girlfriend had dumped me about 10 months prior. I had just been fired from my job for inadequate performance. I sat on the beach, by myself, and just stared at the sunset thinking about my life. That is when I decided to take charge of it. To start enjoying it more.

    I'm glad my blog touched you in some small way. Thanks for reading!

  4. You make some very valid points, Joe. I must check out that movie.

    I've tried to live in the moment for some time now. Every once in a while, I get drug under the current and have to fight my way out of those riptides. But I believe that if we didn't have those bad times, we would never be able to appreciate the good ones.

    Thanks so much for the reminder. It is certainly timely for me.

  5. This is actually something that DH and I were talking about earlier. I really do enjoy my life, but do miss those carefree days, when I had nothing to worry about but couldn't wait to be an adult. We were talking about the fact of taking our "younger years" for granted. Now life is full of responsibilities. Some of them difficult, we still try to enjoy every moment we can. Posts on peas like Beki's and Joey's fight for life really make you stop and think and be thankful, even for the difficulties you face. Great read!

  6. Joe --your words are so true -- I have realized today that since Kaitlyn has died we no longer say "We will do it Later" --we do it NOW -- you never know what will happen that can change your reality forever.


  7. Joe,

    Thanks for the reminder. Great message (despite being a departure from your "usual" :)

    FLA SummerBaby

  8. "Simulation" was a wonderful blog. I really, really enjoyed reading it. You are a talented writer and do amazing stuff!! Thanks for the good read~

  9. I so needed that today. Couldn't have come at a better time. It all makes sense. Thanks, Joe.

  10. Thanks Joe.. that was a GREAT read... Life does really blink past if you don't keep your eyes open.. doesn't it?

  11. Joe, I am going through some serious crap right now, but I assure you that I am not ever going to take the good stuff for granted. My daughter was taken away from me last Saturday, and after the longest 5 days of my life, I got her back yesterday. Right now, I do not care if she pees in her pants, if she throws a little tantrum, or if she doesn't go to bed the first time I ask her to. Because I love her, and what matters is that we are together. I don't want to be anywhere or in any time other than now, with her, hearing her voice and feeling her small arms around me.

  12. Laura *just*me*LC4/27/2007 04:27:00 PM

    Joe...simply amazing! And, certainly a lesson that we all need to learn! Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful thoughts and your most awesome writing ability. You always make me smile.

  13. Peas Well w/ Others4/27/2007 05:31:00 PM

    Inspiring thoughts. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Appreciation is something that is tough to do all the time. This is a great thought... WHY? Why is it tough? Why can't we teach ourselves to be more aware?

    Good thought for the end of the week.

  15. So true Joe.

    One day I woke up in ICU more dead than alive and the life I knew was over. So now I have a different life, but I have my family and together we make the most of each day.

    I have lots of problems. The latest is that the $$$ for my power wheelchair seems not to be forthcoming. But I'm alive to complain about it, so it's all good.


  16. Thank you, Joe.

    The last few years, for me, have been all about living in the moment. Life is too short to worry and spend time questioning the what-if's.

  17. Joey~
    Just wanted to tell you again what a wonderful job you did expressing yourself on this blog. We all need to appreciate the things we have while we have them... it can be taken away all too easily.

    One of my favorite literature lines has always been "Fear not death, but the unlived life." (I could be misquoting that...) Until lately, I'd forgotten how much that line used to affect me. You've reminded me yet again, how important that is.

    Thank you, Joey. :0)

    (Yes, I follow you everywhere...*muah!*)

  18. Thanks for the wake up call tonight Joe! You seem to keep the peas entertained..but it is great to see this side too!

  19. It's been a while since I've read something that actually made me just sit in quiet and contemplate the words I just took in.
    Thank you for that.
    Very inspiring.

  20. Help/Aidons Madeleine Mc Cann :

    {ThE fReNcH tOuCh}
    ze artsy english-fran├žais blog

  21. unfortunately over the last few days friends around me have lost loved ones and it made me remember this blog entry and the basic concept to live in the moment. Not sure that I *really* understnd how to do it, but I'm going to try! nice essay, btw!


Comments are like crack for bloggers, and I'm a big-time addict. Please leave one here!

(You do not need to sign in to leave a comment. You can leave a comment using only your name OR you can be completely anonymous by choosing the appropriate "identity" below)