It seems every year Thanksgiving and Christmas come faster and faster. I think the older we get, the more used to the length of a year we become. Kind of like the return drive on a long trip often seems shorter than the initial drive. Our minds tell us that the trip was so long, and being creatures of pessimism, we anticipate the return trip to be longer than it really is.
Such as with life. How often, students, do you put off that paper because you have an entire week to get it done? Or husbands, how many months go by before we actually fix the furnace? Just look at how big your kids are, if you want me to get to the point.
I recently read a little play by Thornton Wilder called Our Town. It is a very haunting account of this very discussion. The Pulitzer prize winning play is simple enough on the surface, but if one is really paying attention, one will be almost terrified of what Wilder is trying to tell us in his play.
And that is simply: Life is fleeting. Enjoy it now while you can.
One needs also to read through Lamentations or almost any other wisdom book of the Bible to get a clue that this is no joke. Time flies, and may I add: whether you’re having fun or not.
So as you gather around the Thanksgiving table with your family – whether you like them or not – I want to challenge you to really take the time to relax, breathe, and live a little in the life you’ve been given. Enjoy your families, regardless of the circumstances. One day Uncle Fred or Grandma or Dad aren’t going to be sitting at that seat, and you’ll miss them.
If you feel that the holiday season has become mundane, soak it in anyway, because one day, you’ll look back on it all and miss it. And if you do this, your attitude will change.
I dreaded taking the dogs out to do their business four to five times a day. But after reading Our Town, I stopped and reflected on the fact that one day they’ll be too old to go down the stairs by themselves and I’ll have to carry them, recalling these days – these days – of their mobile youth. So I stopped pestering them to “Go potty!” and just let them take their time and allow them to enjoy the cool air and bark at the squirrels.
If you’re like me and hate shopping, go with your spouse anyway this Christmas season, and have fun. Don’t throw a fit, or pout, because one day, you’ll regret soiling would-be sweet memories. Take in every moment – the good and mundane – fix the bad ones, and don’t continue to leave behind regrets of lost memories.
I’ll leave you now with a chilling passage from the third and final act of Our Town. Emily, the young, hopeful bride from the preceding act has died and is in the grave observing a very dull day in her early life as Scrooge does in his own harrowing visions.
Emily – I can’t. I can’t go on. It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another.
She breaks down sobbing…
Emily (cont.) – I didn’t realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed. Take me back – up the hill – to my grave. But first: Wait! One more look. Good-by, Good-by, world. Good-by, Grover’s Corners… Mama and Papa. Good-by to the clocks ticking… and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths… and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you.
She looks toward the stage manager and asks abruptly, through her tears:
Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? – every, every minute?
Stage Manager – No.