The year is 2002 and I am volunteering at church with a friend of mine. It’s our wonderful duty each week to brew coffee for 1,000+ college students that come to a Friday night service just for them. We start early cleaning giant thermos-like canisters in a floor sink, chatting about life, and loving our small team of volunteers.
During this particular Friday, my friend talks about how cool it will be to get older. He is having a mini-revelation right there about the wisdom and authority of being an adult with years behind and things figured out. His enthusiasm makes growing older sound like both a great feat and a lot of fun, something to look forward to and a journey worth taking.
I was reminded of this moment in my life as I worked away during my part-time turned full-time job at the local produce market in my neighborhood. As I chopped the worn bits off of celery, I found myself thinking about what it means to grow-up, what life looks like in hindsight and how many people have regrets or loss they just can’t step over. Does enthusiasm fade? Do regrets get too much to handle? Does the loss triumph over the possibility in life?
My boss has run his business for 24 years. It is a landmark of Oregon City on the corner of Washington and 14th. I asked him early this morning before the doors were unlocked or the tills opened if he was where he thought he would be when he started. I wanted to hear his perspective as he looked back on a dream from the future.
It seems that no matter what direction we are looking, life is not that easy to figure out.
My friend from church died a few years after our conversation about getting older in a motorcycle accident in Nepal. My boss looks back and admits that he isn’t where he thought he would be and isn’t doing what he wanted to do, just got stuck doing something he was good at.
Neither of their outcomes were expected.
So, why do I spend so much time trying to manipulate my world into a perfect picture? I do not know if I will live to see my dream fulfilled with excitement and joy, and I do not know if I will look back on things I got into doing that look less and less like the original dream as time moves along.
Perhaps there is more wisdom in living for the gift that is this moment, enjoying the extreme heat outside, loving that bite of cool watermelon, supporting the people around me without hesitation. At the end, it will be the relationships built that matter, anyway.
As I dream towards 31 I would like to commit to taking pleasure in moments, breathing in goodness and living generously.