I read a quote earlier today about life being more than just the distance, but about the width encompassed in that distance. We naturally count the years we’ve lived and one day each year we celebrate those years, racking them up, regaling in how far we’ve come. They say wisdom comes with age, the distance – but what about the breadth in those years? That’s what I want to celebrate. Don’t get me wrong, I love birthdays and haven’t (quite) feared any age yet, but can’t help but think there is more each day that warrants honoring.
I vividly recall when my children were babies and toddlers. Each day with a young child can seem like a year and a moment all at once. Early on the adrenaline of having a new life in your family and learning about the person takes over and the days speed by. Yet, sleeping is on a very odd schedule and exhaustion makes some days feel like an eternity. Days run into nights and nights into days in an unending loop akin to watching Bill Murray’s Groundhog’s Day on repeat. Some days, some moments, are dicey and frustrating while others are incredibly sacred and deeply rewarding. There is great breadth in those years. I felt them fully, entangled with emotions that never felt so raw. We’ve grown out of those years in my house now and we are in a different season of life. As my children evolve into tweens and teens I find myself lost in a sea of learning a new language of speech, gestures, trends, topics, and a long list of events, confusing emotions, and tethering of our hearts. I am always questioning if I’m doing too much for them or if I’m not providing enough support. It’s a murky, inky zone of colorful experiences and higher-level conversation topics that taxes my conscious and unconscious mind. There is no doubt that making the decision to have children and being extremely fortunate to bring three of them into our lives has been the breadth that I will be able to enjoy in all of my years forever and ever. Yet, I do not believe that having children is the only way to grow the width of your days.
Any life of service to others and engaging in meaningful relationships will naturally grow the scope of your years. Dedicating yourself to something bigger and beyond your own small sphere is a sure way to extend the branches of your being. Exploring, learning, and deciding to work through things that make you uncomfortable, always striving to develop yourself further, are all ways to extend yourself and really capture the span of possibilities each day.
We are not here long. Our time is finite. While this may bring about panic and a sense of remorse for time passed or the illusion of not enough time left, stop those thoughts. Take a deep breath. Now another. Close your eyes and call to mind someone in your life right now that makes you laugh, makes you cry, makes you feel joy, or makes you angry. Maybe there is one person that does all of those things and maybe you were more in tuned to one of those emotions right now so there was one particular person that came to mind. Either way – you felt something when you thought of that person. You have a relationship with that person that creates feelings in you. Those feelings are a result of time you have spent with that person, the experiences that you have shared. That is your breadth. Indulge yourself and recount as many of those experiences as you are able to do at this moment and then set forth to the next. Get out there and do things that get you in touch with the people that make you feel good things and spend less time with the people that make you feel upsetting feelings. The more good you feel, the more good you’ll share with others and the more of it you’ll create in all that you do. Bring this forth as much as possible and spill it into your days, marking where you’ve been. The expansiveness of each day is only limited by your imagination. At the end of your days it won’t be the distance of your years, but all the living you did in those years. Another moment is upon you. Live it.