THE POWER OF NOW
Here is a group of students who understand the Power of Now and have taken it upon themselves to make a difference. These are the kids from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas School in Parkland Florida, the survivors of the horrific attack who saw 14 of their classmates and 3 staff members shot dead in front of them in February. They launched a movement, March4OurLives (https://marchforourlives.com/) knowing that if there is to be a change in the future it is going to require action now. Some 800,000 people marched on March 24th. This is the Power of Now personified and we owe these students a debt of gratitude for their commitments, their ongoing hard work and their vision for a better future. These kids know that now is the time and that waiting for someone else or just preparing and getting ready is not sufficient, not adequate, not acceptable. They have mustered the requisite courage and confidence to do this work and deserve our support and encouragement to keep going and not give up. They are leading now and they will be leading in the future as well.
By always getting ready for what’s next it’s easy to miss or even sacrifice being fully present in the moment of now. For years, I asked privileged high school kids why they were there, and the most frequent response was so that they could go somewhere else, usually college. I said, let’s pursue this conversation. Why do you want to go there? Their response was most often so they could get a good job or enter a profession. And what then, I asked. In order to move on to the next level and make more money. Really, I said and why is that? So you can get what you want and look forward to early retirement? Yes, they said, that’s the plan. So, I said you’re telling me you are going to spend your life planning and getting ready to die? What do you mean, we didn’t say that. Well, I said, you told me you’re going to spend most of your time getting ready for what’s next. How about being here for being here and making the most of this experience here and now? What a novel idea!
From planning for a trip or packing for one, to getting ready to change jobs to preparing for retirement to preparing for the final stages of life, it seems like people spend an inordinate amount of time getting ready for whatever might be next. A plan is a good thing because if change is inevitable, you have a chance to plan for the kind of change you want. There are even “readiness” tests for children as young as kindergarten and we often ask the question, “Are you ready?” How often do we say, “Ready to go?” Are there various states of being ready? Is it OK to be partially prepared or must one always be fully prepared? If it’s a rocket launch the systems must all be checked to be in their ready position. The countdown. Ready. Set. Go.
When reading a recent post about teachers preparing students for the next grade level or getting them ready for the test I was reminded of numerous conversations about people in the preparation mode. Here is part of one such exchange: “ I have never understood why teachers have the mindset that they need to ‘prepare’ students for the next grade or panel. Often leads to bad pedagogy, just to prep kids for bad pedagogy. Thanks (to Ted Dintersmith) for addressing this in “What School Could Be” Christine Vanderwal.
I believe that the best way to prepare for the future is to be fully present now and therein lies the Power of Now. It’s about what life could be if more of us would be committed to changing the status quo by becoming more active in the present. Take a lesson from the kids leading March4OurLives. They know that their lives and ours depend on what they and we do now, not at some distant time in the future.