How often do we wish the future would come faster?
Wasting precious time on tomorrow, instead of appreciating today?
We all do this, regardless of age:
Waiting for summer vacation to come, then bored to tears with all the free time.
Waiting until we grow into our bodies, lose the acne.
Waiting to graduate, convinced it will solve all our problems.
Waiting to grow up and become adults, to then spend adulthood wishing we were kids again.
Waiting for that perfect job, with perfect hours and compensation.
Waiting for our soul mate and a story book ending.
Waiting to start our family until the time is right.
Waiting to save money.
Waiting for our children to grow out of diapers and the need for constant vigilance.
Waiting for the terrible twos to pass.
Waiting for teenagers to outgrow their surly disrespect.
Waiting for them to marry and have grandkids.
Longing for the days we can retire and do as we please, to often find the days empty and lonely.
Wishing for something or someone to fill the days.
Always looking ahead with anticipation and hope. Never satisfied with the here or now. And in the end, looking back and wondering where all the time went. Wondering why we focused so much on the future, rarely attending to the present.
As I write these posts I see all the wonderful pictures I pulled out of dusty boxes, relegated to a closet for decades. Sharing special moments, most of them brought back vivid recollections, others just a sense of where they came from, a few raised uncertainty as to why I decided to immortalize that second for all eternity. But all have given me pause and a chance to relive that instant, reflecting on memories and times long gone. Showing me a wealth of snapshots that have coalesced into a collage representing my life.
I loved each and every minute. But I realize now how often I was distracted by petty turmoils that wouldn’t last, or daily worries that resolved regardless of my attention, instead of focusing on what really mattered.
The time I had with those now gone, or the precious years that so rapidly evolved to a place where I was no longer the center of my child’s life. We all know that’s how it should be.
Children are meant to grow up and move on but we can’t help looking back longingly at the years they ran into our arms, sought our guidance, or just laughed and shared their aspirations and hopes. Each birthday brought a few minutes of reflection on how those times would be fewer and farther between.
I remember my siblings and parents, now gone, and wish I’d expended more energy and patience when they were alive. I look at their pictures and remember the impact they had in shaping the person I’ve become. The growing pains endured as we all tried to find our niche in a family of seven. A place where we felt honored and loved. Those squabbles and extended periods not talking to each other over some perceived slight seems petty now. And such a waste of precious time we never knew was rapidly diminishing. How I yearn for one more bear hug from my father, in who’s arms I felt safe and protected. I wish I had my mother’s incredible eye for making a room come to life as I build my new office. My older sister’s assurances I could handle anything through her unconditional love and devotion. My older brother’s ability to make me laugh, no matter my mood, reinforcing how much we need to lighten up and enjoy ourselves. Each impacted these posts, each immortalized by their wisdom and insight.
No one knows when their time on earth will end. Living each moment as if it’s our last is too exhausting. Oh sure, we may briefly appreciate everything more when a loved one passes and we are reminded not to take each other or our final breaths for granted. But it never lasts. It can’t. Eventually the mundane existence and requirements of our lives pushes that intense, immediate feeling to the background. Until it’s suddenly resurrected with another sad event reminding us again how fragile life is.
Last week a young man died at the corner streets outside my office in a horrible motorcycle accident. In the last year a colleague died suddenly at age 52. She was apparently in great health until then. A friend lost their adult child to senseless violence. Countless patient’s lives were turned upside down with devastating news. All reinforcing the message we are all on that ledge together and when our time comes, there will be no bargaining or extensions. We won’t be allowed even a few extra seconds or minutes to say what we’d never gotten around to mentioning for far too long. Always believing we had tomorrow to rectify any situation.
I see the same frenzied pace all around me, in all age groups. My 29 year old daughter already bemoans her age. Never satisfied with her accomplishments, healthy perfect body, unending stamina and abilities. Already she’s disheartened at the time that has gone by and her perceived lack of progress. Sure she should have achieved so much more- in her personal and professional life. The problem is we’re never satisfied. No matter what we’ve achieved we always want more.
How often have you looked back and realized that should have been enough?
I had my health.
My family was safe, happy, and thriving.
I worked each day with pride.
Was able to pay my bills. Instead, always waiting for something else.
Years ago I heard Anna Nalicks song – “Breathe”. It hit a nerve.
‘Cause you can’t jump the track
We’re like cars on a cable
And life’s like an hourglass, glued to the table
No one can find the rewind button,
So breathe, just breathe.
Life marches in only one direction- forward. And like that hour glass, it’s only filled with so much sand. Each amount unique and final. We all have a certain amount of seconds, minutes and memories represented by each grain of sand. Once you set the hourglass down, the sand starts to flow and there’s no way to stop or slow the rate at which it falls. Each grain marks a moment that’s gone forever. You can think back to a memory but you can never live it again. Although you have a certain amount of seconds in your life, if you bump or toy with the hourglass too hard it can crack or shatter.
Life doesn’t begin at 20, 30, 40 or end after those decades. Life begins every morning with each new sunrise. Its what we do with the day that matters. Will it be focusing on the here and now? Or wishing away what can be accomplished for what hasn’t been? My favorite quote says it all-
Life is not measured
By the number of breaths we take,
But rather by the number
Of moments that take our breath away.
How many moments are you racking up?