Thursday, December 16, 2004

Do you want to start feeling your age? Then have the following conversation with your child or any child:

I was on my daily commute to take my first-grader Leo to school, when we began on a conversation of family lineage. As I laid out the family tree for him and spoke of his great-grandmother Mary, Leo asked whose grandmother she was.

"She's my grandmother, Leo. She was Grandpa Hoedl's mother."

"Like Grandpa Hoedl is my grandpa?"

"Yes, Leo, exactly."

"So when I am a grown-up, you'll be an old grandpa, Dad?"

(gulp, reality kicks me) "Yes, that's true."

"And when you're dead, I'll be an old grandpa?"

"That's the way it works for everyone, Leo."

On the very date of my 42nd birthday today, I've taken a moment to take stock of this past year, and I've witnessed four noticeable changes within my life:

    1. I have even less hair (if that's possible) on my head than last year. A reality that is much easier to live as I get older.
    2. I am in better physical shape than I was last year... actually, better shape than I have been in the last almost twenty years. Since I've been staying at home with our triplets, I've made an active choice to not "let myself go" physically.
    3. I actually feel younger (physically, emotionally, spiritually) than I have in several years - the lack of work stress and the constant exposure to three infants, at the same time, will do that to a person.
    4. I actually have a greater sense of love in my life and a more profound wonder of Life than I had last year... in fact, in past years.

Why is this occurring within my life? I'm not exactly sure, but I have one idea...

You more than likely have heard the phrase, "Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional." As you age yourself, the phrase itself will become both humorous and profound to you. But also within this simple phrase is a paradox - one that may gradually change the way you live your very life; and allow me to share with you what I have recently learned from this paradox...

"...growing up is optional..."

We will each come to our own self-realization over time that we will all physically succumb to old age and eventually, the grave. It is a somber thought and one that will be greeted with either personal peace toward how we have lived our life or regret for all that has been left unfulfilled. The eventuality of our reaction to this realization is dictated by our choice, being lived out each and every day of our life. It is our choice, for "growing up" and accepting responsibility for our life and its outcome is, after all, optional. And here is where the paradox lies...

For the very height of our growing up is dictated by the very depth of our bowing down. There comes a time in our life when we begin to realize that:

  • this world, this Life, is much greater than our own single life;
  • this world is teeming and celebrating with Life; all at the hands of the Creator, entrusted to us;
  • this world, this Life, can never and willl never be fully understood or appreciated by us;
  • this world, this Life, needs our small but vital role in its continuation;
  • this world, our life, is simply a temporary assignment - there's much more beyond for sure.

Read those five statements again. In my own acceptance of these statements, they leave me humbled. For each of us, they leave us feeling vital, but not all-important. For each of us, they leave us knowing that we are influential but not all-powerful. For each of us, they leave us being entrusted, but not all-controlling. For each of us, they leave us humbly bowing down, kneeling, in the sight of this great and mysterious presence called Life. And in that bowing down, we are each growing up...

hoedl's haven
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