Archive for September, 2015

Don’t Wish Away Windshield Time

rearview

I used to dream of the day when I’d no longer need to drive my kids around. Now that it’s almost here, I’ve begun to think about what I am losing.

I’m not only losing early-morning wake-ups and late-night pick-ups; I’m also losing precious time with my children. While I maybe didn’t enjoy driving to and from practices, games and sleep-overs, I was with my children, and I had their attention. We were each other’s captive audience for the few minutes we spent on the road together. It’s harder to get those moments now.

My daughter, my youngest, is now learning to drive. Like her older brother, she will soon have a school permit that will allow her to drive to and from school events. No longer will I be with her when she leaves the house for an early-morning practice or waiting for her when the bus drops her off after an evening event. I have to admit, having my son drive himself for the past two years has been tremendously convenient, and that convenience probably blinded me to what I was missing – time to catch up with my kids, to learn about their activities and interests, to meet their friends.

I made the mistake that many people make – I wished away part of the life I was given.

Wishing away life’s activities is mining for fool’s gold. Unfortunately, by the time we realize this, it’s too late. We might get what we were looking for, but we might wish that we had back what it cost us.

Maybe we’re convinced that we can start enjoying life once the mortgage is paid off and the kids are through college, not realizing that we’ll never get back the time we spent wishing and waiting for those things to happen. Maybe we can’t wait until we can quit our jobs and do something we really like, not realizing that the job we don’t like is setting us up for an opportunity we haven’t even imagined yet. Maybe we’re counting days until our child’s sports season is over, not appreciating all that she is learning from participating.

When my kids were young, I remember thinking that it would be so great to have the entire house to myself for even just a little bit of time. I wouldn’t have to worry about anything or anyone except myself. Now, I often find myself alone in my house, wishing that I was still central to my kids’ lives.

Likewise, I rushed through college, thinking that something better was on the other side. Because I was tired of living on little money, I focused on graduating as quickly as I could – cramming as many credit hours as possible into each semester. When I wasn’t in class, I was working so I could afford all of those credit hours. I was only on campus to attend class, never getting involved in extra-curricular activities that can enrich the college experience.

I achieved my goal of graduating from college in four years, without debt and with a teaching job already lined up, but a year later, I was wishing that I was back in college – that I had spread out my experience and took advantage of unique collegiate opportunities. Like driving my kids around, I was too focused on the destination to enjoy the journey.

Life is like that. As the destination begins to fill our windshield, we also start to see more clearly through the rearview mirror. The sooner we can figure this out, the happier we will be.

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Follow this – Why I don’t do Facebook politics – any more

nohostility

I did it again. I unfollowed a Facebook friend. I didn’t want to do it – I enjoyed seeing pictures of his growing family, and he was occasionally witty – but I grew tired of the bitterness and hostility of his posts. It’s ironic, because it was this kind of behavior that led to me to be banished by some of my own Facebook friends a few years ago.

It was in the depths of the 2009 economic downturn, and my business was struggling. Meanwhile, political leaders seemed to do everything possible to weaken the economy and the country I love. Social media made it easy to lash out.

It’s easy to find pictures, articles and video to give voice to your hostility. It’s much harder to think of how others might perceive them. It’s easy to involve yourself in fights with strangers who are hundreds of miles from your keyboard. It’s much more difficult not to add to the hostility. I did the easy thing almost every day.

If I saw a picture that was critical of the other side, I reposted it. When a political commentator wrote what I was thinking, I posted it, often with my own snide comments. When someone posted an opposing view, I challenged them. I made social media my battleground in a war to win minds.

Sure, some of my friends applauded my efforts, but they already saw things the same way I do. I wasn’t changing their thinking. I was fueling a wildfire. Likewise, those who I offended with my posts didn’t change their thinking. If anything, bitterness from the other side only strengthened their beliefs. I really wasn’t accomplishing anything but anger, and I got myself unfriended by a few who grew weary of my crusade.

I hate that I no longer see updates from the people who unfriended me. Social media is a fickle place, and it should never replace live human interaction, but it has brought me back in touch with several people. We might not ever talk or see each other again, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t care about each other’s lives. Social media allows us to stay in touch without really being in touch.

Because I value my friends, I won’t unfriend someone because of their political beliefs. I don’t care if you think our current president is a messiah or that conservative is another name for redneck. You might think that guns are to blame for crime and that trophy hunters are scum. It doesn’t matter to me. If you’re my friend, you’re my friend.

Initially, I was offended when others didn’t feel that way and unfriended me. How could someone be so petty to snub a friend over political views, I thought. Then, I backed off and observed the noise that continued. Some of it I agreed with, and some of it, I didn’t. If I agreed with it, the post usually incited me to anger, and if I didn’t, it still incited me to anger. I don’t want to be angry on social media or anywhere else for that matter, and I sure don’t want to spread that anger.

That’s why I unfollowed my friend’s posts. It’s not that I don’t respect him or his opinion. I just don’t want to be angry.

 

Note: You can unfollow someone and still remain Facebook friends. When you do this, you can still visit their page and see their posts, but their updates won’t appear in your newsfeed. It’s like not giving your obnoxious cousin your home address. If you don’t know how, it’s worth figuring out.

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