“Living in the moment.” What does that phrase mean to you? Is it something that we give as an excuse for risky, unwise behavior? Or an intentional unwillingness to consider a hard road ahead? I think a “living in the moment” attitude sometimes gets a bad reputation, but perhaps that’s because we have forgotten the art of being present, of stopping to consider only what is happening right now, rather than thinking back to the past or ahead to the future.
The girl who walks the reader through Antoinette Portis’s beautiful picture book Now wants to remind us all what it is like to be truly present in a given moment. On each spread, she shows the reader some of her favorite things; her favorite leaf, her favorite worm, her favorite song, her favorite tooth. The text is sparse, with no more than ten or eleven words on a page, and the illustrations are bold against a white background. There’s nowhere to look except at what the girl wants to show us, to consider it right now. After a few spreads with a repeated “this is my favorite” refrain, the book anticipates the reader’s question—Why is this the girl’s favorite? She answers—because it’s there, it’s the thing right in front of her, it’s her present reality. “This is my favorite cloud, because it’s the one I am watching.” A simplistic worldview, perhaps, but one that caused me to take a deep breath and slow down my mind and heart as I read this book.
Most of the spreads depict a favorite thing in the outdoors—a leaf, a tree, a breeze, a hole in the ground. For me, Now is a reminder to pause and remember the wonder that can be found in God’s beautiful creation! Too often I just plow through the day, focused on what I just said in that meeting or fretting about an anticipated future conversation. I’m completely oblivious to the now, to the sunset right in front of me or the bird outside my window. “Living in the moment” can mean more than pushing aside concerns and forgetting consequences—it can also mean pausing to appreciate our current situation instead of living in the past or straining toward the future. Children naturally do this so much better than adults. Every new discovery is the “best thing ever,” and every scraped knee is a major trauma, because it’s what is happening right now.
I’m grateful to Antoinette Portis for this beautiful reminder to be present and consider my surroundings. Now ends with a sweet image that made me want to scoop up a kiddo for storytime as soon as possible. It would work great as a bedtime story or a one-on-one read with your son, daughter, niece, nephew, or neighbor. I hope it’s also a reminder to you to slow down and consider living in the moment.
Featured image courtesy of the publisher.