Our lives will be measured by the retelling of memories by those who walked beside us.
On Saturday, the recess for Father’s Day had passed and I was back to my usual chores about the yard. My “to do” list on this day included some particularly dirty work such as cleaning the gutters, the garbage cans and washing the windows. As usual, I went about my duties cheerfully, but always on the lookout for something to make the time go faster or the tasks seem less tedious.
Mid-afternoon in 90 degree heat, I found it. I was washing the second story windows of our bonus room with the Windex bottle attached to my hose. As I sprayed the soapy solution on the window, some of the suds flowed over the small window air conditioner unit. To my delight, the air flowing from the vents blew through the suds causing a gleaming array of bubbles to float gently through the air. They looked just like the ones I made with the small bottle and wand when I was a kid. This unexpected sight made me smile and give a hearty laugh [today’s kids would say, “LOL”]
Like blowing bubbles for the first time as a kid, I needed to show someone my discovery. I hurried to find someone to show and I found my daughter. As she looked out that window, I repeated my new trick and we both laughed together. A moment shared. A memory made. That simple moment of delight made my load seem a little lighter for the rest of the day. I hoped that sharing my bubbles lifted my daughter’s spirits as well, once again encouraging her to see the joy that can come in the midst of an otherwise ordinary day.
For me, on every day and in very occasion, there is joy if you are willing to look for it. As Be There Dads, there comes an opportunity to help our children see it, too.
In the movie, The Bucket List, Morgan Freeman’s character talks about the gateway to Heaven. As he and his friend [Jack Nicholson] sit atop the Pyramids and reflect on the ends of their lives, he says, “You know, the ancient Egyptians had a beautiful belief about death. When their souls got to the entrance to heaven, the guards asked two questions. Their answers determined whether they were able to enter or not. ‘Have you found joy in your life?’ ‘Has your life brought joy to others?”
Perhaps we would all be well-served to keep those two questions on our radar screens as we make our journeys towards Heaven. Maybe the answers to life are that simple. In a similar way, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten remindsus to “Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some”
Last week on a sunny hot Tuesday, I left my office behind and spent the day at Carowinds with my family. As part of a full day in the park, I rode the bumper cars three times in a row and I corkscrewed upside down while strapped in next to my daughter on a ride called The Afterburner. As one of the oldest “kids” in the park, by the end of the day, my feet were tired, my shirt was soaked with perspiration and my shoulders felt the “beating” they took on an old wooden roller coaster called Thunder Road. But, on that day, once again, I saw the joy. More importantly, I think I shared that joy with my young partners. I heard it in their laughter while they watched me collide with bumper cars and when they saw the look on my face far above the park before hurling downward through a harrowing minute on something called The Cobra.
Believe it or not, after that joyful day, when I returned to my office, the piles of paper and emails were waiting for me. After a long day and an evening session at my desk, I was back on schedule. A small price to pay for the memories made.
Life is more than the job we do and the stuff we acquire. Recently, I thought about some young law school graduates who are busy studying for the Bar Exam. This summer it seems there is nothing more important than passing that test and moving onto a successful career. Like most of us, sometimes, it seems there is no time for anything but the task before us; and when we convince ourselves that our lives will be measured by our success or failure on a specific endeavor, we forget about seeing what life is really about. Although I remember vividly the three grueling days I sat for that same exam some thirty years ago, that memory pales in comparison to memory of the hour my bride said “I do”; the first moment I saw my children and other moments of joy saved on the hard drive of my heart.
We must “make a living”. We go to work and earn our money so we can pay the bills and the mortgage. Most of us will get those things done. Young lawyers will pass the bar exam. And, others will accomplish great things. I like to say, we will “plow the ground” and we will bring in the harvest. But “life” is more than that. Perhaps those ancient Egyptians were right that you have not lived until you have found joy… and shared it with others
We cannot lose focus. Life is about relationships and the moments we spend with those we love. Life is about the joy we share in those moments. In the end, if we are lucky, our personal stories will be told by a recounting of the memories made in those moments.
Summer is a great time to seek the “bubbles” of in your life and share them with your children. You may find them in the lights of fireflies during walks on warm evenings. You may taste them in the salt on your lips when playing in the surf. You may smell them in the smoke of a fire as you roast marshmallows. You may feel them on a Tuesday when you “call in sick” from a nearby amusement park. Listen for the laughter of your children….the joy will be close by.
… Sing and dance and play and work every day some…