I've changed a lot over the past ten years and some how wound up with a life I didn't anticipate. As it is now, I find it hard to let go of the person I was, accept who I have become and figure out how to mold the two into a woman I could be.
I need the courage to face my failures, to take the risks I currently fear and to give that woman a fighting chance to be more than a dream...
Thursday, April 26, 2012
My son and his request
frog mask for future
greetings of "em ehh!"
In one of those strange out of body experiences, I found myself standing awestruck the other day while playing with my son. His cherubic face peering out from under my old yellow ball cap and a heartfelt squeal of unadulterated glee was erupting from his little frame at the sight of a slimy frog. Of course the frog didn't share the same sentiment about my son and promptly sought toddler-free swimming elsewhere, but the situation caught my breath and in that instant I wished to dissolve into the simplicity of the moment.
Since that day, I've been thinking a lot about time in a
physical sense and how fleeting snapshots of joyful existence and individual manifestations
of heaven on earth evaporate far too easily into the grey drudgery of the
“everyday.” Amid the stresses of toddler
tantrums, seemingly perpetual doctor appointments, ambitious running goals and extended
family tension, it is hard to conceptually recognize the passing of time as
more than accomplishments and to do lists.
I find I rarely live my day to day life in measurements of Kairos time and,
as a result, I am irrationally shocked to find years of Chronos time have slipped
past in a matter of what feels like a few months… my son is somehow two years
old instead of new born, my marriage is comfortably aging rather than still honeymooning
and the umbilical cord of my childhood identity is long since cut away leaving woman
– not child – permanently in its place.
Weird, when did that happen?
Anecdotally, I remember a road trip my husband, Mother and I
did at one point several years ago from New Mexico to Colorado. It was not a particularly memorable trip and
honestly I couldn’t even guess what year this happened let alone why we were driving
in the first place, but just south of Raton Pass something unexpected happened
that will forever lock that specific ride in my memory. With relatively little warning, the bright desert
morning randomly disappeared from sight as the vehicle descended into a valley
and was completely enveloped into dense
fog. The car slowed and we inched along as
if the world literally stopped and nothing existed beyond the frame of the
vehicle. We could no more see the road ahead
of us as we could predict the future or relive the past and for those short
minutes we were 100% in the moment. Of
course we ascended out of the valley and the world came back into focus again,
but I have to wonder how much sight was lost in the fog and how much
perspective was really gained coming out of it?
I am all too aware
that someday I will wake up and my life will no longer be laid out before me as
I-25 had been prior to the fog and that I’ll have fewer miles to look forward
to ahead of me than I have to reflect upon in the rear view mirror. Truthfully, that part doesn’t scare me. What scares me is the realization that it is
far too easy to sleep walk through existence and miss out on the special Kairos
moments of life by purely failing to recognize them as such.
Months ago my husband told me of an article he’d read about
a study that explains why time seemingly speeds up for adults after the
conclusion of childhood. You know what I
mean, how the school year never ended in fifth grade, but now the past three Thanksgivings
are interchangeable in memory and more or less a few weeks apart? Apparently, the study says that this is
because children have more to look forward to in life that is new and enjoyably unfamiliar than adults.
As young children, we more enthusiastically
appreciate things like going to school for the first time, the transition to
double digit ages, experiencing a first kiss and many more Kairos events than
we do later in life. Unfortunately this makes
sense since as adults we generally dread adding another candle to our birthday
cakes, find holidays more of a chore than a celebration and - with the
exception of momentous occasions like our own weddings and the birth of our own
children - years seemingly run together like repeat sentences missing appropriately
placed comas and periods.
My take away from that study is that if adults find ways to
break away from their routine just often enough to experience new pleasures and
those individual manifestations of heaven on earth I mentioned earlier, time
may slow down just long enough to catch a breath taking moment worth holding on
to. I used to think that the only novelty
remaining in my life came at the end of a long plane ride to some exotic
destination where my anonymity and inimitability allowed for expatriate
identification outside of myself. But as
the last time I left the United States was four years ago (yet again,
shocking), I’ve come to realization that my life in isolation is made of
endless Chronos time… however, when the lives of my husband and son are mixed
in, my existence becomes fresh and each day is unlike the last because we each
have an opportunity to imprint the other’s lives in ways we wouldn’t on our own.
At the end of the day, when I lay down at night I find
myself thanking my lucky stars for the chance to learn from my son and the frog.
It made me realize that the more memorable moments we create for one another,
rather than for ourselves, the more unexpectedly joyful existence becomes. Such Kairos experiences are sweet reminders that
quality of life, not quantity of years is what ultimately matters.
In honor of Benjamin Breedlove and in loving memory of Benton Brubaker.