Connecting the dots: Pressing Pause on Fast Forward Thinking

February 19, 2012

Erin Outcalt

By ERIN OUTCALT columnist


This morning I ate a nutty bar for breakfast. No, not a nutrition bar filled with nuts and other healthy stuff but that sugary sweet treat with virtually no nutritional value. This is one of the few benefits of being an adult, I can eat what I want for breakfast.


I wearily looked at the oatmeal that I knew I should eat and it looked back at me with virtually no appeal. I wrestled around for a few minutes between what I should eat and what I wanted to eat before deciding that by golly I was now officially a grown up and could eat what I want! I’m not saying this was a wise choice but it was mine to make.


As a child the choices I had were limited by my wise mother. I don’t recall ever eating a nutty bar for breakfast. This strange breakfast choice got me thinking back to when I was a child.


When I was young I was always looking forward to the things that I was not able to do yet.

First I looked forward to being able to go to school. Once I was in school I looked forward to the next milestone along the way like getting a locker and going to the school dance. Once I made it to high school I looked forward to driving. I have yet to learn how to drive a stick shift and must apologize to the driving instructor, the boy stuck sitting beside me in the car and my best friend who all diligently tried to assist me in learning how not to grind through all of the gears. Despite their admirable efforts I failed that portion of driver’s training miserably.


And then of course as I approached graduation I looked forward to making my own way in the world. Yes it’s true, I knew it all (doesn’t everyone at age 18?). What I did not know is that there was a really loud wake-up call dialing my number shortly thereafter: “Hello Erin, you must now get a job, pay bills, clean your own house, fix your car, etc. Welcome to the world of being a grown-up!” I distinctly remember crying a lot after that.


I didn’t appreciate the freedom I had in being young. I don’t know that anyone does. We anxiously look forward to the next milestone while racing through the current one at hand. Once we hit “adulthood” we wonder where the time went. We fondly remember our childhood days wishing we could go back to times that were simpler when our lives weren’t so chaotic and full of the grown up choices and responsibilities that we must now face.


But have we really learned anything here? Do we cherish the days during the week as much as the countdown to the weekend? Do we brush off the bad things that happened during our day so that we can focus on building good things into our day? I know that I am still guilty of trying to fast forward through the ho-hum portions of life while anxiously anticipating the good stuff ahead.


I am beginning to realize that right here and now is the good stuff. Today’s moments will become the cherished memories of tomorrow. Playing board games with my kids at night is the good stuff. Enjoying a beautiful sunset is the good stuff. Taking time to help someone else is the good stuff. Rather than looking too far forward I think I’ll focus on today’s milestones and memories while enjoying another nutty bar.


Erin and her husband, John, live in Custer Township with their children. You may contact Erin at



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