Living in the present has its unique responsibilities. Countless writers and philosophers have warned us to seize the day, live each moment and not waste our time on empty fantasies.

For as much as I adhere to the idea of fully living life, I think that we can do better. My definition of this is taking an extra step. Paying it forward is a version of this but I aspire to a more personal and specific form of giving.

Doing just enough is insufficient. Perhaps an assortment of examples will best explain what I mean.

My son recently visited Chicago to meet a friend and attend a Chicago Cubs/Colorado Rockies baseball game. It would have been enough to send a photo of Wrigley Field. But he did more by sending a picture from a local landmark and another of the Rockies entering the field.

My daughter always exceeds the definition of sufficiency. She’ll send videos and breathtaking photos of my grandchildren, often wearing the clothes that I sent or capturing unique, memorable slices of time.

On a daily basis, I am the recipient of the next step in the form of early morning coffee. My car is often given a full tank of gas and I am never allowed to carry a basket of laundry up the stairs.

In my world, I spend time trying to exceed what’s required or expected of me. That’s why I bring candy and craft supplies to my school kids. And it’s why I’ll buy a favorite bread, vegetable or dessert when they aren’t part of the shopping list.

We all have opportunities to take an extra step in all of our settings. It can be baking something for co-worker, shoveling snow from a neighbor’s driveway or making certain to be early for appointments.

Most of the extraordinary steps don’t cost a cent. To me, the most important ones are anonymous and complete surprises. When you spend that much less time gratifying your needs and more in embellishing the lives of others, the sense of joy is immeasurable. Shalom.

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