Friday, December 7, 2012

I Want To Take My Time

We all tend to be narcissistic about our own time.

We remember our childhood as unique.
We tell stories of our "one-in-a-million" Senior year of high school.
We talk about our generation.

We live as though this cycle of birth and living and dying doesn't just keep repeating over and over again as it has for thousands of years. We are somehow different. Our generation matters more. Or something. As if the next won't think the exact same thing.

I remember as a kid trying to fathom the beginning of time. Trying to imagine the moment before the first moment that ever was. And where I fit. And how I came to be. And getting confused and scared and dizzy.

I had a similar moment just this last Thanksgiving.

I sat with my family and watched a video-interview of my Grandpa talking about his life and his experiences in World War II. He got married. He was drafted. He served in Japan. He sent money home. He started a life. He had two sons. He outlived three wives. He had grand kids. He farmed. And now he's gone.

And as we watched Grandpa's face on the TV screen, my Dad began to cry. And I realized--for unfortunately the first time since he died--that Grandpa was a real and whole person to my Dad in the exact same way my Dad is a real and whole person to me: full of memories and experiences and life lessons and emotion. We are not merely a catalog of life events, we are whole.

Later, during the weekend, we watched scratchy home videos of us kids playing, taking baths, going on family vacations, and celebrating birthdays. Again, I saw Grandpa, as if I'd never really seen him there before, but I also saw my parents: young, thirty-somethings figuring out marriage and adulthood and careers and parenthood and family and balance and the future.

And that's when I realized two things:
#1. The grown-ups in my life were once young like me. 

They worried.
They struggled.
They took pictures.
They made bad choices.
They chose careers and partners.
They lived.

#2. And I will one day be older like them.

I will soon enough be thirty.
I may have children.
I will get gray hair.
I will grow older.

I am humbled to grasp that I am small.
That many have lived before and many will live after.
That my story--while valuable--is one of many.

I believe it to be significant that I have never met a person--who in the wisdom of their elder years--said, "Wow, life went by so slowly!" No. Everyone seems to wake up absolutely perplexed that they're forty-seven and cannot account for where the years have gone.

I so badly don't want that to be me.

I want to be aware of my place in this big story.
I want to acknowledge where I came from and where I've been.
I want to observe and take notice.
I want to take my time and learn to slow down.
I want to feel each day. Even the crummy ones.
I want to learn to be excited at "long" weeks.
And awakened by weeks that just fly by.
Because while I may be living them.
I'm not fully in them.

Life is a gift.
Not granted to everyone.

And I want to take my time.