Wishing Your Life Away

(This is part of an ongoing series of highlights from past Listen to Life newsletters.  Many readers and subscribers were not following when this came out.  Enjoy.)


The older man stood by the check stand as I rang up his groceries.  I always enjoyed engaging customers in conversation, and the man and I were talking about a subject that I am not sure of now, more than 30 years later.  I remember distinctly the lesson, which was his response to my comment “I can’t wait until I’m 18.”  He said, “Don’t be wishing your life away.”

Every day offers us a chance to experience something new and intriguing, familiar and comforting, or simply sublime.  Every day.  And when we wish to be at some point in the future—whether it is a week, a month or a year or more—we wish away part of our life.  Why would we want to fast forward our lives to some desired new time—the weekend, the end of the semester, the beginning of summer, or retirement, for example—when each day between now and then presents us an opportunity to experience happiness, joy, laughter, love, smiles and tears?  Why would we choose to pass them by?  Perhaps because we don’t leave ourselves open to those opportunities as we plod along toward the future we believe will be better than today.

To this day, when I think “Gee, I wish it was Friday” or “I can’t wait until this project is over,” I think of the older man who talked patiently with a then-immortal young man who bubbled with enthusiasm and conversation.  And then I stop my thought of “time travel,” and look forward as a middle-aged man to the next discovery or familiar moment.  I can only hope there are enough moments to hear the songs, see the images, watch the growth of my sons, feel the rain and taste brine tears.

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