When Melani and I were about to get married – we picked out some wedding bands together. Being frugal and practical as I am – we went to Sams Club to buy the rings. We got a plain platinum one for Melani to match the beautiful engagement ring that I bought her. What caught my eye for my ring – was a titanium ring that was surprisingly light and had three modest diamonds on it.
Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about those diamonds – and what they might represent.
Before we had kids – I came to the conclusion that they would represent the past, present & future for me. I wanted to make sure I was living my life in the present, but in a manner that would provide a solid foundation for my future, and in such a way that when I looked back in the rear-view mirror that I would be proud of my past. I can’t say that I have always accomplished that – but that has been, and remains, my goal.
The World Today
In this world it always seems as if kids are being pushed along by somebody to accelerate things in their lives. Do this now, buy this now, start wearing makeup, take AP classes, start driving, start dating, start smoking, start having sex, get a job, get a cell phone, start drinking… Kids are bombarded with these messages on a daily basis in our culture, through the media, and by their peers.
It seems to me that the virtues of patience and delayed gratification have been vilified, which is really unfortunate.
It also seems to me that most of the time when someone is pushing our children to accelerate things and / or not delay gratification – it is because they have a vested interest in them doing something.
Does accelerating things, or immediately satisfying our every desire end up making us any happier in the long run? I’m not so sure it does. The news is littered with stories chronicling how the lives of our favorite child stars (Disney stars, in particular) have spiraled out of control and unraveled as they have approached adulthood. Many of these child stars amass significant wealth at a very young age – and I am sure it is difficult to get them, and those around them, to exercise self- restraint. But getting everything we want, when we want it – is not always a good thing.
The people I see around me that seem to be the happiest have learned that there is a pace to life and a balance that needs to be struck between the present and the future. Speed through life’s milestones too fast – and you just may find yourself bored and / or burned out. Life is meant to be savored and enjoyed at each stage like a drive through the countryside or reading a book – it is not a sprint! Enjoy the journey – don’t skip chapters and rush to the end of the book!
But on the flip side, live only in the moment – and we may not be making any provisions for our future….
I think it is human nature to look to the future with anticipation. And anticipation is what keeps us engaged, and eager for tomorrow. If we have everything we want now – what is there to look forward to? Oh, and MOST of us live with economic & financial limitations as a reality – so we probably can’t even ever have everything we want!
Realistically we are always going to be wanting something – so we should face that fact and get accustomed to it. If we finally do get something that we have wanted for awhile – we are probably then just going to move on to wanting the NEXT thing. So why not just resolve ourselves to always having, at some level, this anticipation or desire to have something that we don’t yet have? And don’t forget – quite often it is the anticipation that is the best part of getting something or achieving a milestone…. so learn to enjoy it!
Life is a balancing act – where we should live in the present – but still be able to look forward to tomorrow. That is not always easy to accomplish. Sometimes we tend to focus too much on one or the other. We may be so eager for some milestone to be crossed or to be able to purchase or do something – that we forget to live in the moment and enjoy what we already have. Conversely, We may be so focused on just the present – that we fail to lay a foundation for our future to blossom.
My kids span the ages of 2 – 10 years old – and my advice to them would be to remain kids for as long as they can. They will have the rest of their lives to be adults – and do adult things. Why rush this special, fleeting and innocent time in their life??
Parents often talk fondly about re-living their childhood, vicariously, through their children for a reason – because it was an uncomplicated and enjoyable part of their lives! So don’t be in a hurry to have it over!
Enjoy your childhood in the present – while you look forward to the future as an adult. Enjoy the anticipation and make good decisions today – ones that you can be proud of as they fade into your past.