I recently was having a conversation with someone and they said, “Yes, I haven’t done that since my 40’s!” This comment made me pause because, while reaching 40 certainly seems like a long ways away (something I might deem “old”), this person is obviously far past 40, and still has quite a stretch ahead of them.
Yes, our lives certainly do “pass before our eyes”, and certainly “time flies by”, but I think when we consider just how many people we encounter, how many things we can accomplish, how much changing we do, the trajectories of our lives are actually very, very long, and can be very, very fruitful. We now live in a society where people are living well into their 80’s and 90’s, which gives them eight or nine decades to encounter people, to work, to gain life experience.
Of course, life does not always reveal this abundance to us, because time ebbs and flows. Time does not announce to us, “You are now entering into a period of abundance”, or, “You will now be slightly depressed”, or, “The next 18 years will be your most trying yet”, but rather slowly and methodically wafts us in and out of these stages. We go from having seasons of loving our jobs, loving our spouses, loving our homes, to seasons of unfulfillment, unhappiness, discontent. Sometimes, these seasons last for a few weeks, sometimes a few years, but inevitably, with time’s strategic hand, they shift.
I think about myself at 26, which means I graduated college four years ago (which feels like an eternity). Since then, I’ve embarked upon three European excursions, at least twenty other weekend trips, recovered from two pretty significant break ups. My grandpa and my Opa both passed away, I (basically) finished grad school, started a blog, watched four senior classes earn their diplomas. I mastered my yoga handstand, fell in love with Oscar Wilde, watched all of my very best friends get married, hiked a 14er. I gained friendships, lost friendships, re-gained other friendships, and in the grand trajectory of my life, this small four year chunk, packed with all of these significant life events, is actually just a sliver in the time I (hypothetically) have available to me.
I even think about what I accomplish in a single week. Sure, the week itself sometimes flies by, and sometimes I can’t believe it’s over, but every Sunday, I devote my time of Communion to reflecting on my week–all the people interacted with, all the places I went, all the things I accomplished–and it turns out that the trajectory of my week is actually quite lengthy, and all those weeks added together leave me with a lot of time to do a lot of things.
But, time is always of the essence, and I think, especially as Millennials, its important to take advantage of all the time we are given. First of all, I think we need to make an effort to get over all those wounds we carry with us–whether those are wounds from relationships that left us broken and afraid, wounds from our childhood that left us weary of attachment, wounds from institutions that prevent us from taking risks (and hey, likely we have health insurance now that covers counseling!). I think we can always target these wounds by paying attention to what we are avoiding–are we avoiding that restaurant, because that’s where we went on our first date and it’s too painful for us to be reminded of? Are we avoiding that outfit, because it reminds us what we were wearing when we received that devastating phone call? Are we avoiding applying for that job, because we are afraid of rejection? If I am 26, and I statistically have 60 more years on this planet, I’m not sure I want to be carrying around those wounds the entire time….
I think we need not worry about who we are going to marry, when we are going to marry, how we are going to marry. When I think about all that I’ve done, all those I’ve met, all the changing and growing, maturing and adapting I’ve done in the last four years, post-college, I can only hope that the next four years will be packed with the same amount of adventures. I love life changing experiences, whether they be joining a Bible study, attending a Lunar Flow Glow Yoga class, traveling to a new place, reading a book, because inevitably, I always come out a different person than when I entered. I obtain a new way to view the world, I can relate to people differently, I gain wisdom, so if Prince Charming isn’t here yet, I’m really not worried about it, because I got plenty of time…
And, last, I think we have to take every advantage of all this time we have been given. It means taking care of our bodies–exercising, eating well, sleeping–so that when we still relatively function in those later years. It means taking care of our mental states, our relationships with each other. It means setting goals for ourselves, always participating in new experiences, new ways of knowing, new trainings. It means, when we look back at ourselves in sixty years from now, we can say, “yes, the trajectory of my life was very, very full”. Because in the grand scheme of things, we are actually granted a whole lot of time to do a whole lot of stuff, if we let it…