I like older people. Much of the time, they are content with where they are and they have an ease about them that makes one drop their defenses quickly. They don’t smirk either…they give you big, wide smiles, savoring them while they share a moment of laughter. They also have incredible B.S. detectors that can be set off at a moment’s notice. Don’t mess with them – they will call your bluff. Older people often have a simple wisdom that can be applied to most any complex situation in life. But most are not begging to give advice to others – they are simply content to live with what life has already taught them and we are presently learning.
I love watching parents turn into grandparents and the slow but steady shift in perspective this creates. Much of the responsibility (and headache) of parenting is gone and all that remains is a simple joy in providing unconditional love to a young child. And, with it, an unending supply of sentimentality and nostalgia. For grandparents, it’s amazing how quickly their nostalgia “filter’ can find and resting place over the most difficult of family situations. Sometimes I wonder if they see life through the warm and glowing lens of Hallmark Channel camera.
We have not had the easiest year. Life threw the kitchen sink at us. And in the past year I have not savored the love and liveliness of a beautiful wife and four children. I haven’t been a “bad” father or husband. I simply realize that there have been times when I was distracted by less important things. And that has caused me to live life somewhere other than in the immediate present.
I don’t normally do the New Year’s resolution thing. But I’m making an important one this year. My resolution this coming year is to live life with the sentimentality and nostalgia of someone double my age. It’s to imagine the fondness with which I will remember these very moments much later in life and transport that same fondness into the present. To revisit memories that, though they seemed bleak at the time, turned out to be powerful moments of grace in my life. And I’m not waiting until the New Year to make the change. There are many chances for “old” Sam to influence “young” Sam’s worldview in the next two weeks. Hopefully, my New Year’s “exercise” will turn into a lifelong habit. Feel free to try it with me.