Now and Forever

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“Forever is composed of nows” ~Emily Dickinson

I find myself quoting Emily often these days. By most accounts, she was a woman who lived a small, secluded life, and yet through her words we see a universe unfolding inside of her. I imagine she spent most of her time sweeping the same floors, greeting the same people, reading the same, worn pages of familiar books. We don’t have much in common in this sense. While I often feel small, my life appears dauntingly complex by Emily’s standards. Living in the information age sucks the ability to listen–to create entire worlds within myself–right out of me.

Last week, we visited five universities in the Boston area with our oldest girl. I felt the walls of every vaulted arch whisper Emily’s truth–forever really is composed of nows. The now of wiping bottoms. The now of kissing away tears. The now of correction and discipline and setting our little birds free to falter and fly. Forever is composed of late night conversations and crying tears of our own. It’s created from every first step leading to that final leap.

Forever is built on every small thing, every whispered or shouted word. Every time we tuck the covers in a little tighter, we add another note, another line to hum. I wish so much for my girl to feel her own universe unfold inside of her, but I don’t know that I’ve shown her how to shut out the noise of the world and revel in the small and the sameness of it. Her world is grand, limitless, and growing ever larger.

As my own world continues to expand in new ways, as I take on new challenges and new roles, I’m beginning to see how much I need to embrace the small. My inner world becomes easily overwhelmed by the noise and the complexity of my outer one. As my daughter’s outer world grows ever larger, I want her to cultivate the richness of her own inner universe. To revel in the moments of ordinary and everyday and small.

I want us to embrace the tiny nows because they lead to the grand forevers.


  • Elise

    So beautiful and a little painful too. I will say goodbye again to my baby soon. She is now a junior in college! This summer I am cherishing our nows a little more as I see how short forever here on earth really is!!