When we were young the vast majority of us dismissed our parents’ clichés about life. We planned to be nothing like them and we couldn’t wait to be adults. However, try as we must most of those clichés are often true. In moments of reflection I considered these things. Why was I in such a hurry to grow up?
Often times, even as adults, we’re in such a hurry to get to the next thing. We can’t wait for the journey to end, we just want the reward. I’m certainly no Tupac, I’m not foreseeing an early death but I have been giving a lot more thought to my life. I’ve thought about the things that I experienced and those that I never did or would. I never went to prom. It’s not something I’ve ever regretted but now I don’t know what that experience would’ve been like. I didn’t really date in my teen years. The first serious relationship I had, I married the guy. That didn’t work out. Lesson learned. I also didn’t take the time to appreciate the wonderful things that has happened in my life thus far. I suppose some of those lack of experiences were good. As they say, when it comes to life, “anything goes.”
The great thing about getting older is that the older you get the more you have to reflect upon. Good and bad, you can’t help but to think about many of life’s moments. For example, my brother and I vowed that we’d never be a parent like our mom. She was the disciplinarian (still is). By many American standards she was very strict. That also comes from her being born and raised in Jamaica. However, now that my brother has children I see him repeating the same things she did that we vowed we’d never do. Since I have no kids (well, I am a stepmom) I am always on his case reminding him of not being too strict. I jokingly say that he doesn’t want to have my niece turn out like me. While there are specific instances where we truly are our own person, it is only natural to become the type of parent out parents were. After all, “the acorn doesn’t fall too far from the tree.”
I look at my younger cousins. A few are in high school or younger. I think back to when I was that age. Knowing that it’ll never be that way again saddens me. I wish the past wasn’t 20/20. “Ah, to be young and foolish,” to be without major responsibilities again, to have no bills, to just live. I am glad to have those memories but wish I’d taken the time to enjoy them more at the time. I think about how I’d have my younger self avoid certain pitfalls or provide better tools in dealing with it.
Life is never what we expect it to be but it’s all worth cherishing. The journey is often so much better than the reward. I think about my own job. Certainly, I like it when a project is complete. However, I gain the most by going through the process to completion. It’s a lot like driving to and from work. A lot of times you only remember getting in and out of the car. However, on the days you take the time to appreciate it, you then see the beauty of the landscape, notice the changes of it over time, relish the beauty and uniqueness of our experience. That isn’t to say that everything requires us to linger. It does mean that before you know it another year or decade rolls by and you somehow missed it.
Things happen “all in due time” and there’s no reason to get “all bent out of shape” about it. It’s as Monty Python says, “always look on the bright side” of life. It doesn’t hurt to “stop and smell the roses.”
This article appeared on page 5A in the 1/23/13 issue of The Union-Recorder under the title Life’s a Cliché and Lessons Learned.