When I was little, I was always somewhat impatient and unsatisfied. Like most kids, during car trips, I would often need to ask, “When are we going to be there?” I also believed that there was some imaginary age that I would eventually reach after which time, I would be so much happier. Wherever I was seemed like nothing compared to where I wanted to be. When I was in first grade, I wanted to be a sixth grader. Those were the cool kids. However, in sixth grade, I realized that the really cool kids were actually 14. Fourteen sounded so much older than 12. I would imagine conversations where people asked me how old I was and I’d say, “Fourteen,” and they would be so impressed!
In junior high school (now called middle school) I was stuck in a special kind of purgatory called “Nowheresville.” Soon I saw that 16 was the magical age because I would finally be able to drive. This made going to high school the mark for me. Even at 16 with a driver’s license, it was obvious that I still wasn’t cool and that girls weren’t taking me seriously. I was really small for my age. I expected that when I was 18 and taller, I’d be seen as real boyfriend material. Unbelievably, at 18, even though I had gotten much taller and stronger, the girls in my class who I had serious crushes on only saw me as a cute little brother. They were dating college guys. I knew that’s what I wanted to be. . . a college guy.
This idea that “wherever I am isn’t it” was aided by my parents who assured me that even though I was feeling uneasy and unsettled in my life, I’d feel much better after… I declared a major in college, after I graduated, after I got into graduate school, after I got my masters, after I got my Ph.D., after I got a steady job, after I found the right girl… ad nauseum. Well, I did all of those things and I’m not sorry I did them but getting over the feeling of “this isn’t it,” as it turned out, had nothing to do with how old I was or what goals I achieved.
It had to do with a choice I made at a certain point to be happy right where I was. It didn’t mean I didn’t look forward to things, it just meant that the journey itself was something to be enjoyed and appreciated in the moment. There was not necessarily better than here. I learned to make here the cool place to be.
Now, more than anything else, the thing that grounds me in the present, even while I’m creating the kind of future I’d like to have, is gratitude, the deliberate focusing on what I love and appreciate about my life and the people in it. When I do that, I feel blessed and I don’t want to be anywhere else but where I am. My kids, when they were very young (below) helped me learn this.
Here’s a little song I wrote about this subject a few years back. Hope you like it. The last line of the song is, “I may not have all the answers, but I can be happy on the way.”
As always, your comments are welcomed and appreciated.