A Slice Of Life To Go is an online Christian blog written by Todd Thompson. It encourages people to see the beauty in ordinary moments and to know God’s unconditional, unfailing love in everyday life.

Beat The Traffic

June 28th, 2005

12 seconds left in the game. The Phoenix Suns have the ball. They’re down by a point.

Steve Nash, Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire have been a three-headed scoring monster in the second half, breathing 3-point fire from the perimeter and pounding down earthshaking slam dunks underneath. The clock ticks toward double zeros.

Marion, aka “The Matrix”, launches from the free throw line as from an invisible catapult. Twisting. Weaving. Flying. At the apex, over the outstretched arms of sweaty seven foot behemoths, he floats a soft high arcing shot that bounces once on the rim, once against the glass and through the net at the buzzer.

The crowd goes wild.

The crowd standing around the TV, that is.

Of all the curious human behavior I observe while at my job in America West Arena, one is most mystifying. It happens, without fail, every time there is a close game. In the final moments of the contest with the outcome hanging in the balance, a crowd begins to gather around the TV monitors in and around our Team Shop.

Beat The Traffic

They’ve left their eye witness seats inside the arena to watch the end of the game on a 21″ Sony Trinitron. And the closer the game, the bigger the crowd. From time to time I’ll ask them why. Their answer? “We want to beat the traffic.”

These people paid anywhere from $60 to $500 per ticket. The live event is less than 40 feet away, yet they’re watching the end of the game on a TV monitor. Just so they can be one of the first out of the parking garage.

Who goes to a movie, sits through an hour and 45 minutes of suspense and at the point of “who dunnit?” says, “C’mon, Marge. Let’s go home. We’ll see the end when it comes out on video”?

It doesn’t make sense that we will sit through a movie to the end for an outcome that’s been recorded on film but walk away to watch on a television screen a live event whose outcome has yet to be determined.

What is it about us Americans that we find it so difficult to live in the moment? Why are we always thinking about the next big thing (or worrying about the next little thing) instead of enjoying the here and now? It’s certainly not because the here and now is lacking. We live in the most prosperous country in the world. What we as a nation spend on video games each year is more than the gross national product of┬ásome Third World countries. We have discretionary income. We have leisure time. We are, for the most part, well beyond the basics of food, shelter and clothing.

Years ago a missionary returning to America after many years serving in a remote area of a poor country was asked if he was surprised by the level of affluence in the United States. He answered, “No. It doesn’t surprise me how much you have. What surprises me is how little you enjoy it.” We have a lot. So why are we not enjoying it? Why are we consumed with the future at the expense of the present?

Jesus talked about the importance of living in the moment. That’s intriguing, seeing as how that advice comes from the One who was literally on a mission to save the world. Jesus had reason to think ahead. But He never walked away from today to get a peek at tomorrow. He said, “Don’t worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)

Perhaps this week we can be mindful of how we short-circuit the present moment. In what ways are you watching life on TV instead of living it live and in person? We can think about tomorrow but it only becomes ours if God gifts it to us. Today is all we have. To walk away from today is to not open the gift He has given. How many unopened packages have you left behind?

If you come to America West Arena, don’t let me see you standing in front of a TV at the end of the game. If I do, I’ll take your ticket and go live your moment for you. Trust me, there’s no need to leave early. To paraphrase, “Do not worry about the traffic. The traffic will worry about itself. Every freeway has enough traffic jams of its own.”

Carpe diem.