At age 93, when asked what his best thinking was about life, TV legend Norman Lear replied, “It can be summed up in two words: Over and Next. If there were a hammock hung between those two words, that would be living in the moment.”
His words were a gift to me. I write and speak often about embracing the season we are in and not trying to rush too quickly to the next season. I’ve compared us to Hobby Lobby the way we start decorating for Fourth of July before Easter even thought about arriving, especially in our real life seasons.
Norman Lear gave me a new concept to think about though. It is equally important, when a season of life is done, to let it be Over. This applies to Empty Nests, Career Changes, Some Relationships, Closet Cleaning and a few hundred other things.
Piece of clothing, too small jeans you have served me well and now your time with me is Over. Season of rearing children in the home: Over. I can miss it. I can want it back. I can look fondly at what was with nostalgia and maybe regret but mostly I need to say, “This is over.” Only then, can I see what is Next.
The prophet Isaiah, tells the people on behalf of God, Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? Isaiah 16:18-20 The Message
I’ve let go of a few relationships along the way, either by choice or by circumstances: Over. I have new people in my life to treasure: Next. I used to be 20, now I’m not: Over. I’m wiser, have laugh lines and cry lines and a wealth of treasured memories: Next.
Much of Next, we cannot and probably should not know. That’s why that part about the hammock hung in the middle of Over and Next is so delicious. Living in the moment. Noticing. Being present.
This morning, as I walked, I noticed creation’s new green color mixed with purple, pink and yellow. I noticed everything fresh from last night’s rain. The air smelled clean. I saw the longest earthworm I’ve ever seen. I saw a daffodil growing alone in the brown crunchy leaves of winter. The caption was clearly, “Over and Next.”
I wonder what it is for you? What needs to be pronounced Over? What might be Next? And how about that hammock in the middle?
Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mimosa to Keller, breast cancer survivor, walker and embracer of seasons.