We spend so much of our life in preparation for something else. We prepare for school, work, meals, projects, vacations, for the day ahead.

Recently, among the many things I’ve been preparing for is the launch of my second children’s book, America’s Dreaming, which comes out June 4th.

Of course, we had to prepare the book for publication, prepare the marketing and publicity plans to get the word out, as well as preparing for launch events, book store visits, school visits and so on.

Much of this preparation is critical so we can encourage pre-ordering the book, which leads to pre-sales. The pre-sales send signals to other booksellers and the publisher which can pre-determine the future success of the book before it ever even hits the shelves. Pre-sales are often a predictor of how much support the book will continue to receive from the publisher and bookstores.

Are you seeing a pattern in the language?

The prefix “pre” means before. Many people love the idea of “before.” It builds anticipation before something we’re looking forward to. It can help prevent a bad outcome. It can help us pre-conceive an ending that suits our fancy.

At the same time, too much time spent in the world of “pre” can be paralyzing. It can cause anxiety, delay outcomes, and decrease our pleasure. We are always preparing for something rather than being in the moment and enjoying it.

Here is a case in point. Yesterday, my box of author copies arrived in the mail from my publisher, Penguin. Being in the moment, would be opening the box with my family and genuinely experiencing the excitement of holding my book in my hands for the first time. Alternatively, it has become common to use this moment as a means to boost pre-sales by capturing the excitement to share on social media. This can often require multiple takes of recording this “spontaneous” moment.

It is ironic that the word present also contains the prefix “pre.” Its original Latin meaning is “before being.”  Under this definition, I suppose it suggests that we should get out of our own head or sense of being. To just be in the moment before thinking about it.

According to Google N-gram Viewer which measures the use of words in print over time, the use of the word “present” has declined by 50% since the 1800. By comparison, use of the word “prepare” has remained steady.

Maintaining a healthy balance between preparation and being present is tricky. One, admittedly, I have not always been successful at striking. To prepare is to give us the illusion of control. To be present is to relinquish it.

If you were already planning on buying my book, please consider pre-ordering it now for the simple reasons listed above. But this will be the only time I ask you to pre-order it. If you happen to see something posted online with me opening my box of author copies, know that it was the first take and that’s my authentic reaction.

And if you catch me, your friends, your family or yourself getting too caught up or bogged down in preparation for anything worthwhile, remind them of the other “pre” word – present. In doing so, you will be giving them a real gift.

Leave a Reply

Sign up here to receive Moving Up Mondays

Receive our weekly email, delivering inspiration and perspective every Monday morning.