Once you quantify “time is short”, it gets really short. This post is about freeing up your thinking on where and how you want to live.
We were at over at Village Burgers in Chapel Hill yesterday, enjoying a lentil burger and tater tots after getting some wiggles out. An American Indian man stopped to chat us up. He is 73 now, but raised his three daughters alone back in Oklahoma. He is going to live with them in South Carolina in a few weeks. He was modest about how hard it was to be a single father of girls, especially in Indian culture in the 1970’s.
He told me that in his culture they think of time in seasons, not years. “If you go sledding with them”, he said, “you take the sled off the wall only 18 times.” What a good frame of reference. If we have a family beach week once a year that is only 18 beach trips. That is even being generous. You lose them to adolescence at what, age 15? The classic comment to “enjoy time now because before you know it they are old” rings true, but it speaks to sweeping periods of time. I like the idea of focusing on the narrow moment, the specific events we really use to judge the passing of time.
This also raises a thought I have had about family living far away. I believe most of us have close but distant relatives. If our kids and their Aunt and Uncle, or Cousins, only see each other two times a year, that is only 30 times over the next 15 years. 15 years seems like a long, comfortable time for making childhood memories. Say it in the terms of only 30 visits in those 15 years? That time sounds paltry. And if those trips are only 3 days long, we are talking 90 days, or 3 months of childhood with the cousins. These numbers are not good enough for me. Okay, now I am sad.
So dear parent, how do you make decisions about where you live and who you live near? Hopefully you are not bound by debt that requires you to work in one place. Aside from that, I think you are completely free to say you want to move closer to family, near old friends, or to any old place doing anything that is important to you.
Thank you man from Little Creek for helping shift my focus. And since you are an Indian Elder passing through town and stopping at this mall, I have to wonder if you really exist or only appeared for a brief moment to give me your story. Cue the fog machine.