A Facebook friend of mine who happens to be the daughter of some close friends got me to thinking. She's almost 18, you see, and she's a senior in high school. The last two weeks of school are killing her. She wants to be on to the Next Thing so badly, she almost can't stand it.
Wow. I remember that. I'm going to be 50 years old this year, and I can still remember that feeling as if it was yesterday. Your breath gets a little short, your stomach has this really weird combination of feeling hungry and nauseous at the same time, your skin feels a little bit itchy, and you have to go to the bathroom. Yep, that's it. Nervous anticipation with a super sized side order of impatience.
Some time ago, probably when we moved in to our current house (let's see, that'd be almost 14 years ago), I found a box that contained some notes people had written to me back when I was in college. I don't think I intentionally kept them, and I certainly didn't keep all of them, so whether by ranked importance or random chance, I had a small number of notes that represented about two years in real time.
Almost every single note was from a friend encouraging me to get some rest, and saying how they hoped I get to relax soon. I kid you not, I had to sit down when I read that. I was flat out stunned. You see, from where I am now, I remember college as a time of playing guitar for an entire day, going somewhere just because we felt like it, hanging out with friends (sometimes all night), and just generally one big party.
When I think back on that time, I have almost the exact same physical sensations now, wishing I could go back there, as I remember clearly having back then, wishing I was here.
I've had a truly incredible life. I'm married to someone who has made me a better person, and who has built with me a family that I never hoped or dreamed I could have. I have two children who are smarter, better looking, and more mature than I ever was or pretended to be. I get to do work that I love for people that appreciate it, I'm not rich but we're comfortable. Faith, family, career... It makes me get teary-eyed just to consider what I've been handed.
Yeah, I've had my health problems. Some chronic crap, and oh yes, I got fat somewhere along the way. I sure would've taken better care of myself, if I'd given much thought to how much I was going to need my body as I got older. But that's just the skin I live in, it's not me.
And still, I wish I could go back to 18 again. But, only if I could know then what I know now. Because just to rush through it all again would be pointless. Yet, to slow down, I mean REALLY slow down, and appreciate how wonderful, random, and free it was to be young? That would almost be worth a do-over. Except, of course, that I would have to give up all that I have and am today. And in that little moment of clarity, the longing disappears. What I am today is a product of how life went, and is still going, and I would not change a thing. Not. One. Thing!
So I guess I'll do the next best thing. I'll blast out a blog post to nowhere, on the off chance that no one reads it, and that this nobody is 18, just getting out of high school or just entering college, and they're feeling like time is just draaaaaaaaaggggggging on because they can't wait for what's next. That's who I'm talking to when I say this:
Slow down. Next will get here just as fast if you enjoy Now.
Just breathe, dammit! Take a deep breath and look around. The days you have, right now, are days that you will one day look back on with longing because of how simple and free life was for you then. Please don't live through them in such a way as to wind up with a shoe box full of regret that's shaped like notes.