My wife is involved in teaching, and on one Saturday evening during the summer she had a meeting with a few other educators in a larger city about thirty minutes from our house. She was a little hesitant to go as she had been working hard on projects all day and wanted to spend the evening together as a family. We decided the best compromise would be for us to travel with her in the van, wait in the parking lot during her meeting, and then travel home together at the conclusion. We packed our snacks and a few games for the children; I grabbed a novel as we headed out the door.
Our drive was uneventful and we arrived at the building where the meeting was being held. My wife hurried in and I went into autopilot mode. The idea of waiting in a parked car is not a foreign one for me, and my normal reaction to such circumstances is to simply zone out and read. About ten minutes into our wait a thought entered my mind—the kids and I were all physically together in the same vehicle, but I had socially separated myself from them. I was aware enough of my environment to keep my children safe and reasonably comfortable (climate control and food), but I wasn’t taking advantage of a perfect situation to learn more about my kids and allow them to learn about me.
I started thinking about my own childhood. My experiences, hopes, and aspirations. I thought back to those things my father had done with me, and what he thought was important that I learn and experience. As a child I had often been to this same building where we now waited and I knew there was a lake hidden across a little field and behind some trees. I put my book away and told the kids to get their shoes on; it was time to take a walk.
When we arrived the kids were pretty excited and it was fun watching them look for animals and plants. Someone found a stone and tried to skip it across the lake. We were having fun, but I wanted to up the ante a little. We are pretty big MacGyver fans and the urge struck me to get a little creative. This particular lake is often used by fisherman and I knew, where there are fisherman you will also find snagged hooks, lines and other assorted fishing paraphernalia. I quickly found an old hook and a length of fishing line. I told the kids I needed a stick and something that would float. Everyone excitedly started combing the beach until we had enough material to assemble a crude fishing pole.
Although we tried, we didn’t catch anything that day. A few of us even came back wet and dirty, but it didn’t matter, we had a great evening together. When I think back on that evening I realize how easy it would have been to waste that opportunity. I could have simply continued with my book, attending to their physical needs, but ignoring the opportunity to connect and share in something greater. We didn’t spend any money. We didn’t travel anywhere special. We used what we had available in that moment and fashioned a cherished family memory.
Seize the moment
Every moment we get in this life is an opportunity, it is up to us to choose how we take advantage of it. We can simply let those moments float by, or we can grab a hold of them and make something special.
Thanks for reading!