The best 10–15% of my life is about to unfold.
Is anyone really ever ready?
My oldest child recently celebrated his seventh birthday. In 11 years he’ll be turning eighteen and presumably on his way to the next stages of life.
Eleven years. That’s it.
We are expected to live 80, 90, 100 years? Quick back-of-the-napkin math tells me that the next 11 years, or the next 10–15% of my life, will be spent together with my wife and kids under the same roof. Who knows what will happen after that? Heck, who knows what will happen before the time is up? Nothing is guaranteed.
There’s this episode of The Office where Andy Bernard says “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” It’s a prescient reminder to always find gratitude in your present circumstances. Appreciate people and things while you are with them; don’t wait for them to be out of reach.
“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”
Does life get better than this? Having your entire family under one roof? I don’t know what lies ahead, but I know that my wife and our two children are happy and healthy. I am happy and healthy. We see each other daily. We laugh together daily. We experience peace and happiness daily.
If the children graduate into life in another city, I will only get to see them a few times a year; a few small doses of memory and laughter. As ill-prepared as I feel to live-through these “good old days” of the present, I’m even less prepared for them to end. Having an expiration date, even if it’s theoretical, places importance on taking advantage of the present.
In the same way fruit must be eaten prior to the expiration date, I need to take advantage of this special time in life and focus on my wife and kids. To make sure there are no regrets when the next stages of life arrive, whenever they turn up.
I don’t fear my kids turning 18 and graduating into bigger and better things; I fear the regret of not taking advantage of the time spent together. Graduation should be celebrated instead of feared.
I want to look back on this time with joy and pride. Joy for all the memories and laughter. Pride for all the character building and self-sufficiency.
As I try to figure out who I am in my mid-thirties while looking for an off-ramp from the rat race, I’ll do my best to give my family the tools they need to find themselves and be aware of who they are, in order to have a viable option to avoid the rat race altogether.
This is the dream. The good old days don’t ever need to end, they simply need to go through a redefinition as we encounter new stages in life. In the meantime, each day is literally a gift. Treat it as such. I know I am.