The Moment is Now, The Person is You
Earlier this week, I was having lunch with my friend, famous architect Jonathon Stembridge-Rickenbacker. Jon was lamenting the fact that his wife was away on business, and he would have to attend an architecture convention alone.
Now, for those who don’t know JSR, this guy is one of the most wonderful people to spend time with. He’s kind, he’s funny, and he compliments me on my mustache nearly every time I see him.
He said to me, “Dr. Matt, I really want to go to this thing, but I don’t wanna go by myself.”
I stopped him right there. “No, you’re not going by yourself,” I said.
He looked confused. “I’m not?” he said.
“No,” I said. “You get to go to this convention with Jonathon Stembridge-Rickenbacker, one of the best people in the world to spend time with.”
He laughed. “Well I don’t know about that, but thanks,” he said.
At that point I stopped the conversation to tell the waitress that the vegetable chili she had delivered me was far too cold to be acceptable. I normally don’t do something like that, but folks, this was like chili that had been sitting on the counter for an hour. I mean, chili doesn’t have to scald my skin, but it should be warmer than my internal body temperature.
I turned back to my friend. “Jon, you don’t know how lucky you are. Everyone else wishes they could spend more time with you, and here you are, getting to spend time with JSR 24/7.”
Now, I wasn’t trying to flatter the man, I just have the habit of saying the truth. Even for those of us who have worked hard to recognize the value we bring to others and to the world, it can sometimes be easy for us to forget that we bring that same value to ourselves. If we are entertaining, that doesn’t stop when we’re alone. If we are kind, we can be kind to ourselves. If we are good conversationalists, then pull up an empty chair and start talking to yourself. (The last one you might not want to try in public.)
Before ya’ll think that Dr. Matt doesn’t occassionally run aground into this one, I have a similar story around cleaning my apartment/office. Recently the immigrant worker who cleaned my apartment got shipped out of the country, and I’ve been stubborn about not doing it myself. It’s just one of my least favorite activities. A friend of mine said to me, “Be a steward of your space as if you are being very courteous to a roommate. That roommate that you want to respect is you.” What she said really meant a lot to me, so I decided to keep the place respectful for the roommate I cherish, and I went out and found myself a new immigrant.
In equal measure, at lunch that day, Jon seemed to consider my words. “Yeah, that’s a very good point. You know what, I AM fun to spend time with.”
At that point I paused the conversation again because, for some gosh darn reason, the chili the waitress brought back was STILL cold. I wanted to shake her and say, “Just look for steam! If the chili is steaming, a proper amount of heat has been applied!”
After she left, I turned back to Jon. “I don’t know what the deal is today,” I said, sighing. “I’ve never had to send something back twice.”
Jon was smiling. “Aren’t you forgetting something, Dr. Matt?” he said.
I frowned. “What do you mean?” I said.
Jon shook his head. “You’re always telling me to be in the moment, to not worry about all that stupid stuff you’ve done, or the stupid stuff that isn’t here right now, or the stupid things you have to do tomorrow. We’re having a great conversation here, and you’re worried about your chili.”
I laughed, ’cause folks I gotta say that JSR had me pegged. I was upset about nothing more than a stupid bowl of chili, and that was occupying my mind instead of the words of the greatest architect of our time.
You see, folks, how can you enjoy that person you’re with, that great person who looks like you in the mirror, if you’re brain is lost in some other place in some other time? You take that moment, you stare into that mirror, into the eyes of that beautiful mustached man, and you say, “Hey! You are the awesomest person in the world to spend time with. You are amazing. You are a conquistador. You are a face-painted warrior, and that shaving cream on your face is your paint. You have the ability to crush blocks with your kung fu skills. Or the toothpaste container like you just did. Yes, chop it. Chop the toothpaste container and destroy all remaining paste that stands in your way.” Folks, I’m sure you get the picture.
Anyway, I better wrap this up because I need to go buy some toothpaste.
Those are just my thoughts.