The other night I dreamed that I was hired back at Motorola, my workplace of 24 years. I joyfully greeted all of my colleague friends and prepared to jump back into my old role. When I awoke, I wondered why I had dreamed that? I ‘ve been gone from there for over 4 years. We’re on the road, living our new dreams. Why revisit the past?
A day later, this photo popped up on Facebook as a “my memories” photo from 9 years ago of Jeff, our two sons, and good friend Jose. It was taken during our 2008 summer trip to the Smokey mountains – our last as an entire family. After that vacation trip, our older son became busy with summer high school football training and then with college and didn’t accompany us on our Gatlinburg trips. Our younger son went with us one more time, the summer before his life was cut short in that fateful auto accident. I had to wonder – what was the message for me here?
Looking back, I realize that time period was a most productive time of my life. I was frantically busy juggling a demanding and responsible job, substantive church volunteer work, along with my responsibilities as wife and mother. I had many great relationships in all of those domains. That time was a GOOD period in my life; rich and satisfying in all aspects. However, truly free time was almost nonexistent and I fantasized about freedom and adventure – the life I have now. Did I fully appreciate that season of life when I was living it? Sometimes maybe, but certainly not always.
My life has changed dramatically in the last few years. Our older son grew up and moved on, and then our younger son died, turning us into instant empty nesters. My job became a stressful grind after multiple company sell-offs and layoffs, fracturing and scattering my work family. I took an offered early retirement package and got out, transitioning into a part time consulting job. My church organization went through difficult times, breaking up my church family. I ultimately drifted away, unable to get past painful memories there. The last few years have seen me through a painful process of deconstructing and reconstructing practically my entire life. Did I appreciate that time while I was experiencing it? Not really, it was mostly painful. But, in retrospect, I can see that it was necessary to tear down the life I once had, in order to rebuild and create the life that I have now.
If you’re a country music fan, you may know the Trace Adkins song “You’re Going to Miss This”. It follows the journey of a young women who at different stages of her life (teenager, newlywed, young mother) is always looking ahead, rather than appreciating the season of life she is in. The chorus goes:
You’re gonna miss this
You’re gonna want this back
You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you’re gonna miss this
I can relate. In my life, I’ve frequently had the tendency to look ahead in time, instead of focusing on living in the NOW, the present moment. I think that’s what I’m being reminded of here – to realize that each day has value. Even in my time on the road, it’s easy to get lost in the planning and looking forward to the next stop on the journey, rather than focusing on this place, this time.
This is what I think the Universe was trying to say to me: Seize the day. Smell the roses. Watch the sunset. Tell your loved ones how much you appreciate them. Fully, mindfully, experience the present moment for the gift that it is.
I’ll keep working on that.