Have you ever sat back and watched children marvel at the simplest things? The happiness it brings, and the excitement they experience? I’m envious of that. A sense of wonder exists in their eyes of the unknown, and the anticipation of their whole life ahead of them; I can’t remember the last time I felt that way.
And yet just a few generations away one experiences the same marvel of the simple things. A slower pace and appreciation for life exists. A reflection of the past helps put the important things into perspective, and every moment seems to be lived, gratefully. I am envious of that, too. To feel confident and comfortable in my own skin the way my parents do; I long for that feeling.
Me, I’m somewhere in the middle. You know, that place where all the mistakes and learning takes place. The place of constant overwhelms, self-doubt, and insecurities. Where you beat yourself up over the little shit, and try to right the wrongs of your childhood for your own kids. Where time is taken for granted, and pieces of your life are moving so fast you’re wondering if you’ll ever have time to enjoy it. Where stress exists so profoundly that you’re sure it may actually be the death of you.
I’m right there, in the thick of it.
And yet I know I’ll regret feeling this way because it’s taking away from the joy of the good moments, but I can’t stop it. It just goes so fast.
In my dreams, a thriving marriage, happy children, passionate career, extra curricular activities, fitness, healthy diet, and contentment exists in perfect harmony and balance.
What a crock of shit, right?
During a recent visit to my parent’s house, my seven-year-old came into the room and his grandmother asked him to take a look at the brand new penny on her nightstand. Her voice, soft and slow, suggested to my son how special that penny was. As he looked at it, his face lit up. I sat back and watched them share a moment. She answered his questions with detail as he stared intriguingly at the penny. He felt it with the tips of his fingers, turned it over a few times in his palm, and smelled the copper scent it left on his hands. I wouldn’t have ever have thought to create that moment for my son, because honestly, my mind was somewhere else.
I remember the feeling I got when seeing a shiny new penny as a child. The thrill was short-lived, but it was always there.
But as my son and his grandma studied the coin, I was in my head planning the day. Scheduling what time we needed to be back for dinner and how long it would take to drive to each destination. I wouldn’t have made the opportunity for that moment the way she did. And his reaction to her was as if she just discovered buried treasure and asked him to keep it. It was simple, yet important.
That moment fulfilled his sense of wonder and curiosity. It was good for him. I couldn’t help but feel like I’d been short changing the poor kid, and the one four and a half years younger standing in line waiting for me to do the same to him.
I’m so overly concerned about not repeating mistakes from my childhood that I’m making a whole new set of mistakes by missing these moments.
So what does one do while hanging out in the messy middle?
I asked my father this question and he had something so interesting to say. He said that life is like a Bell curve. When you start out as a child, the simple things are the best things, because they are the new things.
As we grow older, we become desensitized to the simple things, and search for more. We sit at the top of the Bell curve as we struggle to find ourselves and figure out all of the lessons to the mistakes we continue to make.
But as we grow, learn and mature, we come down from that peak and begin to appreciate the simple things again. We live a life full of experiences that just steers us right back to who we were as children.
He made me realize that it’s ok. It’s ok to be in this time of our lives, somewhere in the middle, trying to figure it all out. And becoming aware of this stage is the start of preparation for the next one.
Whether we accept it, love it, hate it, or enjoy it, none of that matters. What matters is that we learn from it. It’s not supposed to be pretty, or perfect. It’s supposed to be where growth happens, and we all know growth can be hideous in the beginning, but it will be so worth it and beautiful in the end.
It’s life, we’ve all got to be somewhere, and right now I’m somewhere in the middle. The messy, confusing, fucked up middle.
And it’s OK.