With Thanksgiving this week, I thought I would include my reflections this week instead of after it’s all over. I’ve got a lot to be thankful for, and you probably do too.
Time With Family
I’m spending this week with my family on a cruise, something I will cover later. This isn’t that post. This is about being asked the question, “Daddy, if you could go back into the past, or forward into the future – time travel – which would you do?” It’s an expected question from any nine-year-old girl, but mine watches nothing but I Love Lucy and desperately wants to meet Carol Burnette.
I know what her answer will be already, but we talked through the various scenarios anyway. It was late at night on our cruise, there was no land in sight, and on the balcony we could just see the white caps running away from our ship in the otherwise black abyss of the Atlantic Ocean.
As many regular readers know, I have a few businesses and while we take our children anywhere that’s not a business meeting (though sometimes they come along for those too), this is time I don’t normally get. Instead, I’m on conference calls, or putting out fires, moving from one challenge to another. I don’t have time to answer questions about which way I would time travel if given the opportunity. This week I do, and this is what I’m thankful for.
(For these keeping track at home, my answer would depend on whether I am able to interact in the past or the future, if in so doing, it would change the space-time continuum, and whether or not I was able to drive a plutonium-powered Delorian.)
Moments Are Fleeting
My nine-year-old already acts like she’s 25 which makes us smile, but also it’s sad because we will never get this time back. These moments are fleeting. As much as I’d prefer she was in bed late at night instead of awake, how many more moments are we going to have watching the waves together and asking (and answering) questions like this? How long before she doesn’t want to hang out anymore at all, and wouldn’t waste her time on such meaningless thoughts?
My wife experienced loss at the start of this trip. We had just boarded and received a terrible call from family friends from her childhood. Friends that played a huge role in her growing up, they went on vacation together, and were there for her like another set of parents. He passed, and my wife was grief-stricken understandably.
We should have visited when we had the chance. We should have sent more text messages, made more phone calls, and sent photos of the kids. Thoughts of what wasn’t said but should have been, just how important the two of them were might have given some closure.
These moments are fleeting, and while this should be a post about being thankful for what we have and not reflective of missed opportunities, it’s this time of year where everyone gets a free pass to call someone you haven’t had time to call. There’s time to invite someone over, or just be in the moment.
Nothing Is Really That Important
As I return to my own thoughts, I’m finding ways to spend more time with my kids than I have in the past. Nothing is ever really that important. We (all) spend too much time in the comments section, and not enough time in messages. We take that call, schedule that meeting, and let it bleed into our lives.
But at the end of our hopefully long lives, the moments we regret will be amends we didn’t make, and the times we chose something meaningless over something meaningful.
This year, I am thankful for the time to watch the waves and answer inane questions from my daughter, time to see my son learning a new sign, or share an inside joke with my wife. Most of all, I am thankful to recognize and distinguish the important from the unimportant, with an opportunity to do something about it.
What are you thankful for this year?