Family Talk: Wishing your life away
If you've ever had children living under your roof you've probably heard them complain like this:
“I wish I was done with school!”
“I wish I was 16 so I could drive!”
“I wish summer was here."
"I wish ...” (fill in the blank)
Most often, it's just the lamenting whine of a kid wanting to be older and bigger, as if wishing could push the fast forward button on life and accelerate the time line. I did this when I was a kid. Probably a lot. I can remember my mother telling me, repeatedly, “Don't wish your life away, Jimmy.”
What kind of unhelpful advice was that? It only inspired frustration. But mom was full of that kind of stuff. Like her most often used remark when I did something dumb and she would kindly ask, “Well, did you learn anything from that?” Arghhh! I hated that line!
And I hated her wishing prohibition line, too. But now I know she was right. She was telling me, in short order form, that every season of life is to be enjoyed, in the moment.
Recently, I've been enjoying the beautiful fall foliage. The turning leaves remind me how there are many seasons to our lives — not just the four we typically experience in Oklahoma (sometimes all in one day!). There was the long ago season when I was a student, then a young lawyer and young husband/dad. Before long I was in that "middle age" phase, and now I'm in a season I'd like to call late summer, but it's probably more like fall (and hopefully not early winter). Whatever phase we're in, it's best to experience and enjoy it fully and not spend time wishing we were in a different place — either forward to the future or longing for the past.
Jim Priest is CEO of Sunbeam Family Services and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.