Which of the following statements is true:
A: Life is very long, and you’ve so much time to live; experience and enjoy.
B: Life is not very long, and you’ve so little time to live; experience and enjoy.
C: All of the above.
The answer, not surprising to many of us, is C.
Recently I visited with a coworker and friend whose son is graduating from high school.
“You remember when you and I first met,” he said. “My son was about this tall.”
His right hand hovered a mere six inches above the desk he sat behind.
I silently did the math – we’d worked together for nearly 15 years and during that time, both our sons became men.
“It feels strange,” he said, his voice trailing off.
His feelings are leading him to a place where many of us have already found ourselves – a place where we abruptly realize we might be moving from “chapters” of a book to one where we pick up an entirely new novel. The next steps will be dramatic and for the most part, significantly independent from the first 18 or so years.
In many ways it is like the old saying “a watched pot never boils.” When you are so close to the moment – like the daily activities of your children – life seems to move in small, somewhat measurable chapters. T-ball moves into Little League, T-shirts go from children’s to adult sizes. Then one day you look at a pile of shoes of your child’s shoes at the door and realize you could easily wear them.
But very few moments in life more strongly remind parents of mortality than the graduation of their child from high school. The list of lifetime markers most of us refer to is relatively finite. I remember when our son took his first steps, his first day of school, and his graduation from high school. Everything else seems to fall comfortably into a series of chronological chapters of life. Today we’ve a few more ahead on the horizon – most people would likely suggest graduation from college, marriage, and first grandchild. But while those may seem as if they are waiting pretty far down the road, I need only to look back at how fast his childhood passed.
My friend’s son is an only child, therefore, putting a much stronger period on the end of the sentence. For me, at least I can take false comfort in the fact my daughter won’t graduate high school for a few more years. But the funny thing is, in a few short years she’ll push me to my very same threshold where my friend stands.
Life moves so quickly – particularly when life distracts your eyes of the ball. Work, health, even other siblings can naturally draw our attention away, creating an odd realization of the passing of time when our attention returns.
But we all must remember, while life is generally measured by a calendar, it is our emotions and experiences that we will one day look back upon. Each of us must walk the careful balance between answers A and B in order to capture the best of what life offers.
Remember the past, celebrate the day and dream of tomorrow.
– 30 –