I realize that at some point in time we all notice that we are getting older. Maybe it is the little kid who was cute and charming on television one minute who suddenly becomes annoying the next (I'm looking at you Gary Coleman) or when we realize that it is time to retire from something that we had always enjoyed...like Big Dave did from softball years ago. Of course, that last example may have been because his wife (ahem...) got tired of sitting in bleachers in the broiling Alabama sun in places that were so small that we actually had to drive twenty miles to find a restaurant...but whatever.
Anyway, when we are younger, we eagerly anticipated being old enough to do something from showing all of our years on two hands, to being tall enough to ride everything at Six Flags, to being able to drive and date. We lived in a perpetual state of feeling like there was something right around the corner that was better. Graduation. Wedding. Children. New house.
And then we actually got older and instead of running toward whatever it was, we started seeing that time was rushing at us far faster than it used to. We started losing important people in our lives, and realized our dreams...or that those dreams weren't going to happen for us. We got a little cynical and hopefully a lot wiser in the process. We remembered "glory days" and the songs that were the soundtrack of our lives in a whole new way.
In other words, we finally grew up. Now, of course, we'd like to be kids. Just with more money and more sense.
We get the opportunity to live some experiences again through our children or young people close to us, and we laugh to ourselves as we play with Play-Doh or teach them to do something that we enjoyed when we were young. We teach them about "our" music and why they should know who Lynyrd Skynyrd was and that Def Leppard had a one-armed drummer. Why we rolled our eyes at the Backstreet Boys and why we totally don't understand rap music, if truth be told.
And then one day we realize that our children have become adults. And that they are looking for something right around the corner that is better. Graduation. Wedding. Children. New house.
We realize that we are the important people in their lives, and we watch them chase their dreams or abandon them for something better. We see them mature and make decisions that are far wiser than we gave them credit for and are grateful. We see them going to work or working toward an educational goal that is worthy and right for them.
The cycle of life.
In my case, I am recently awed by the fact that I am not expected to fight my daughter's battles for her. She is a grown woman with a job and responsibilities. She is capable and strong and amazing. I am finding it hard sometimes to get out of our old patterns - but I'm doing pretty well - if truth be told. She has earned the right to make her own decisions about her life...and I have no doubt that she will make good ones. And if she doesn't...she knows that she has a safety net of family and friends who will help her heal and dust her off and send her back out there.
My son intends to be an engineer...and this doesn't even remotely surprise me because that's what I believe he was born to do. He has a brilliant mind that has the added bonus of being able to write well and do mathematical equations that I know not of. It still awes me that he takes classes like Calculus and Physics and only struggles in History. In the four legged stool of memorization (quite important for History), computations (Mathematics), theory (useful for Economics) and expression (English)...he has three of the four of these down cold. Most of us are lucky to have one or two that get us through.
But while I am enjoying watching my two conquer the world, I am equally enjoying seeing my folks enjoy my children and their accomplishments. They keep me grounded by reminding me that "this too shall pass" and that what I think is the end of the world really isn't. After all, they have survived Jimmy Carter's presidency. They have been where I am in the struggling and striving years when you are trying to navigate excellence at work with the very real pressure of an upcoming merger or layoffs that may put you involuntarily on a different path. Where they know that we have to let our children find what makes them happy and whole instead of insisting on limitations that we are tempted to impose because it is all that we can fathom.
Each day, I remember a time when I was more hopeful about the future and had so much to look forward to that I couldn't wait to get started. Somewhere along the way I started feeling the pressure of people depending on me...but I didn't really mind. Now I am feeling that some of the pressure is coming off...and it is a little bit liberating. It gives me hope that there are more dreams to conquer and more assignments that I am meant to fulfill. At least I hope that is what this means.
Today I woke up at 4:30 a.m. because I had slept so hard that both arms had fallen asleep. It is most uncomfortable to try to go back to sleep in that state, so I got up and decided to write instead. I've had an hour to think and pray and contemplate a little bit...and here is my offering of that time back in written form. I've had time to complain about being older...but I've also reflected on the fact that I'm still here and in relatively good health. This, of course, totally rocks.
I don't know if I will like all that is ahead of me on the road...but I'm equally aware that I'm taking for granted that the road will be a long one. I hope it is. I do know that even on the worst days of being an adult, there is always something new to learn and something amazing right around the corner if I am patient and expectant.
There is something in me that hopes and dreams and is unfinished. Something that keeps me going when I feel that my life is a wee bit boring or unnecessary in the grand scheme of things. I'm grateful for that part.