I have a reputation for being sappy – but one of the greatest joys of writing is that it creates for just about anyone who will embrace it a timeline of retrospective viewpoints on your life. This becomes even more obvious if you are willing to honestly write about yourself, especially on a public forum such as a blog. Seemingly uninteresting events take on a grander meaning than we can readily establish when they are happening. We only need the forum and motivation to analyze them to come up with their purpose. Given that I’ve taken the first leap of creating the forum, it’s only natural to publish my thoughts honestly. If anything, if nobody reads it, I’m left with a great diary to look back on one day. That alone brings solace to the craft.
Tonight, I realized that for the past couple years of my life – scratch that – for the majority of my adult life, I’ve been concerned about “tomorrow.” Many people say you should live in the moment – enjoy the day, because you may not have another – but I honestly can’t really give many examples of people I know that actually follow that sentiment. In fact, I’d say it’s rare enough my interactions with people living in the moment is limited to single digits.
No fault to us, however. We’re trained at a young age to understand that when we grow up, we’ll be able to do things we can’t do now. Stay up later. Drive a car. Get a job. Move out. Once we have those things, we start thinking about what we can do to better our situation. Bettering anything, it seems, takes time. Bettering our finances. Bettering our car. Bettering our job. Bettering our lives. It’s almost as if we regress to the point where the very crux of our nature is to figure out what comes next.
I think I’ve been missing the point, and I didn’t realize this until last night. On a whim, I came home from work in a fairly decent mood. It wasn’t a great day – but it wasn’t necessarily a bad one either. I scooped my kids up, cancelled the dinner my wife was starting to prepare, and after a brief car ride scoping out locations we ended up at the neighborhood sit-down Pizza Hut. Not exactly fine dining, but with 3 children, it may as well be the downtown Michelin Star Restaurant of the Year.
The entire meal for our humble family of 5 probably costs about 45 dollars. We had the entire place seemingly to ourselves. The service was grand. The company was even better. I talked with the wife. I ate pizza and acted silly with the kids. Then, about halfway through the dinner (bear with me here, it might get cheesey – ha! Pun intended), time sort of slowed down. I realized at that moment looking across the table at my 7 year old daughter, pizza sauce all over her face, that she was indeed a great kid. I laughed at my 2 year old as he attempted to eat Jello with a fork. I grinned at my 3 year old as he smashed goldfish into smithereens on his plate, and I admired the fact God gave me the wife he did, that I don’t deserve, and given a lifetime of “working up to it” I never will.
The whole moment of retrospective lasted probably 15 seconds, but in that moment I had the opportunity to just shutdown for a moment before snapping back to reality and realizing that if I died that night in my sleep my life would have enough meaning for 50 more lifetimes. At that moment, the next house, the next promotion, the next bill to be paid – the next rock to overturn simply didn’t matter.
What mattered was Pizza Hut.
Maybe, friends – that’s really all that does matter.
I’d like to think so.