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WRITE TEAM: But today is a gift

WRITE TEAM: But today is a gift
WRITE TEAM: But today is a gift

“What’s the best decade of life?”
I remember hearing that question from our teacher as we sat in senior English class. We gave our perspectives as seasoned 17- and 18-year-olds, with most saying the 20s or 30s. 
A high school staff member nearing retirement happened to stop by our classroom, so we asked her opinion. She talked of her experience, giving pros and cons of each one. “You know, each decade has its own beauty. I’m happy where I’m at as life slows down with all my children grown.”
Our class was reading "Tuesdays with Morrie," a book by Mitch Albom about his experience reconnecting with a former professor at the end of the old man’s life. Albom shared the lessons he learned about what truly matters. (It’s a powerful book if you ever get a chance to read it.) As young people facing graduation and planning for our futures, the book inspired many meaningful conversations about what it means to live a fulfilling life.
That conversation stuck with me — the idea that every chapter is special, and where you are at right now is the best place.
Back then as seniors, we were being told by some adults that high school days were the best years.
Two years later, I realize that was far from true. I mean, high school was great and all, but life today is just as good — even better in some ways. Looking back on the two decades I’ve experienced, each season has been unique and special.
In high school, everything was simpler, and to 20-year-old me who is trying to figure out what to do with her life it looks so easy, but I remember it had its share of challenges.
Today in college, I find it easier to balance my classes with extracurricular activities and farm chores, probably because I’ve had more time to practice. The intellectually stimulating coursework can be hard, but it’s good to be challenged and grow.
Next year I transfer to Northern Illinois University. I will focus on my major, preparing for the career to come. That will be exciting, too.
After that, I get to enter the real world (I know, I know, you’re laughing and saying, “just you wait, you young upstart.”). As I look ahead to that, I’m excited and a little apprehensive as to what the future holds. I dream of the things I’ll do, the life I want to build, and the people I can help along the way.
But for all the joy of looking back and looking forward, I think the best part is appreciating where I am at right now. This quote attributed to several different sources says it well: “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present.”
I think it’s easy to spend too much time focusing on the past or the future. It’s beneficial to do a little of both, but after that it’s best to sit back and enjoy today for what it is.
I want to take each moment as it comes and treasure every season for the special joys and opportunities unique to each one. What will you do with your gift of today?
  • MARTHA HOFFMAN, of Earlville, is a former Times teen columnist and a sophomore at Illinois Valley Community College. She can be reached by emailing

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