I used to think that I was wide awake and aware when I was younger. That I looked around at the world and knew what I saw in it. That I was master of my destiny and my domain. I used to think that I had answers and solutions to life’s problems. Looking back on that hubris, that absolute arrogance, makes me laugh now, and I guess we all need a good laugh now and then, right?
I laugh at my old self because I did have answers and solutions, but I didn’t have them for the right questions. It’s easy to have a plan in life and to know exactly where you’re going, but it really doesn’t matter what your plans and goals are if you are striving for the wrong finish line. When I was younger, I spent so much time rushing towards my goals that I didn’t enjoy the present, the here and now. I didn’t take the time to spend time with family and to just enjoy the moment. I couldn’t enjoy how much love was produced by so many relatives; I just felt stifled and overwhelmed, unable to breathe in the here and now.
I wanted to travel the world. See exotic locations and meet strange and wonderful people. I didn’t want to be stuck in a one horse, po-dunk Georgia town. I wanted something better. I wanted to be aware of the world and ferret out its secrets.
I wanted to be happy and continuously looked outside of myself for something that would make me happy. I was sitting in a hospital room with my cousin David keeping the death watch for my Aunt Rachel in 2000 when I realized that love was the only real important thing. Nothing else could you take with you when you leave this world. All of the things that I had acquired were just things. What I had walked away from and lost touch with over the years were what really mattered.
Did I change automatically and correct my life like in a cheesy movie? Nope, too stubborn to do that all at once. I had to flail around for a while longer in an existential crisis while I mourned what I had lost and try to figure out where to go from there. Do I have all of the answers today? Not by a long shot, but I am aware that what comes after this life is much more important than the distractions and the things that make up this world. I am also aware that I stumble and fall on this journey of life depending on the lessons that I need to learn, and, if I’m too stubborn to learn the lesson, my fall will be bone jarring and painful. That’s ok though. Like I tell Morgan, we fall so that we can learn to get back up. In the end though, all we leave this world with is love. Love is all that matters and all that will remain of our struggles.
I John 3:16-18 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters… Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.