When kids are deep in play, they dread hearing those three fateful words: Time to go.
Imagination fueled Barbies and baby dolls, Legos, a play kitchen, old-school model trains, and Play-Doh are ever so much more fun when a friend joins in. And the play can be deliciously endless.
It’s always Just a few minutes more?
But leaving is so much harder when a video game or TV show is incomplete. Even board games demand a winner – crossing the finish line first or richest or fanciest. Sure, the game itself is fun – but reaching the goal is mandatory.
Consider the allure of a slow-paced and relaxing road trip with its car games, snack bags, roadside historical markers, and scenic lookouts. Ahhhhhhhhhh – lazy and relaxed and beautiful.
Yet all too often, we’re just one back seat argument away from those infamous words Are we there yet?
It seems like the journey is too often considered just a necessary evil. A gauntlet that parents create under the guise of family time. Perhaps we believe it will serve us well to slow down a bit, discovering the nooks and crannies of the open road as it winds through each county and state. Perhaps finances preclude us from more efficient transportation, or perhaps it’s just something we’ve never done.
But in the end, There looms large and extremely attractive. And this eagerness to reach the destination reaches far beyond family vacations and reunions.
For many, the workplace presses down so hard, the only relief is to anticipate elusive “days off”. For the professional earning an advanced degree, the end of each semester or course seems like an eternity away. The grade-schooler can’t wait to be a middle-schooler who can’t wait to be a high-schooler who can’t wait to graduate.
The young mom who, despite the heartfelt and often incessant encouragement of those more experienced, trudges exhausted through the “pretty soon’s”. Pretty soon he’ll learn to walk, pretty soon she’ll be in school 2 mornings a week, pretty soon they can walk to a friend’s house… be home by themselves… drive to school…
We so often live from one “if only” to the next.
And I mention each of these not because I find fault in others — but because I look back on them in my own life, cringing and disappointed.
I couldn’t wait to get out of high school, earn my degree and start teaching. I longed for a boyfriend and then to get married and then have children … and then longed for the days when I could get a little time for myself.
I walked through so much of my life looking only ahead and beyond, paying little attention or finding little interest in the wonder at my fingertips. I enjoyed the company of my family and friends, but always wondered what was coming next, what could or would be even better. I liked the college world – and I did very well – but I never savored the opportunities open to me because I attended a large university, filled with interesting people, art galleries, and free concerts. I spent so much time thinking that I might be missing something that, at times, I missed everything.
I attended church wearing blinders, never asking a hard question, never curious about the mysteries of God. I missed growing closer to Him by simply taking the time to listen.
I wasn’t terribly grateful for what I had, but I could list with precision what I thought was denied me and what I could do with those treasures.
I lived with an undercurrent of dissatisfaction. I walked to the unsteady beat of “Am I There yet?” It feels like I faced so many unexpected and extraordinary situations and every turn in the road not as opportunities to explore but as burdens to be carried or episodes to be endured as I approached There.
My life was a game of Monopoly instead of a bubble wand.
I know people warned me about this, every step of the way. And I know my wise words will most likely not make a bit of difference to anyone.
But I feel compelled to gather the world close and whisper, “There is not all it’s cracked up to be.”
Not that my college days or boyfriends or kids or jobs were wasted on a complete loser who didn’t have the smarts to realize the value of her years. I’m not bemoaning what is gone at the expense of what I have and do now.
But can I just plant a tiny seed in your minds? The urgency for There has robbed untold joy and contentment from me and countless people like me.
No, I can’t begin to tell you what to do – but I can share what I hope you avoid.
My lovelies, let’s not be so focused on There that Here is lost. No matter how young or old, we will all be the richer, for ourselves and for each other, if we adopt a spirit of Carpe diem instead of If only…
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post, with the prompt of “Are we there yet?”