I find that as I get older I experience fewer peaks and valleys. Maybe I take fewer risks because I have four children and a spouse who rely on me to provide for them. That’s probably a good thing because children gravitate to people they can count on.
But fewer lows means fewer highs, and I miss the highs.
Could it be that I’m becoming more stable? More mature? Or more boring. It’s probably a combination of many factors. I turned 43 this year. I’ve now been married and out of college for nearly half my life. I know what my strengths and weaknesses are in both areas. When I was younger, I fought against those weaknesses by ignoring them. When I realized that wasn’t working I began to focus on them. But over the past few years I’ve come full circle to the point where I try to spend my time doing what I do well.
I pick fewer fights. I’ve learned that only a few topics are worth taking a strong stand on and those are usually family related. Let others battle it out over the mindless details and let karma take care of those who treat others poorly.
What I’m finally beginning to understand is that I like myself for who I am. A number of twists and turns mixed with with a few roadblocks along the journey can make a person wonder if he’s heading in the right direction. I second-guessed myself a time or two, and I shouldn’t have.
Last year at this time, Kim and I discussed cutting back in a number of areas including activities that kept our family from spending time together. That’s resulted in the kids occasionally having to choose between a school and church activity. It’s meant that Kim and I have spent fewer nights and weekends doing our own thing. When we’ve had free time, we’ve spent it together as a family. We’ve stopped feeling lazy because we participate in fewer activities than most of our family and friends.
This past summer, we spent several weeks visiting the coastal towns and beaches of Washington with Kim’s parents. We slept in a tent and fell asleep listening to the waves crash against the sand while our kids slept in sleeping bags next to us. No rushing from one exhibit to the next. Just simple living and spending more time together. Remove most of the distractions and time seems to slow down.
My father came to stay with us for a few days. We used to spend a good portion of his visit going around to the various Seattle attractions. But today he took the kids shopping. As I pushed our 3-year old in a stroller, I watched how my three oldest children laughed, hugged and basically mauled my father for a couple of hours. I don’t know who was happier to see each other. I have no doubt neither would want to be anywhere else. Sure, the kids enjoy the new clothes. But it’s the time he spends with them that can’t replicated.
I don’t know what I’ll be doing in 20 years. But after watching my father, I hope I’m doing exactly what he did today.