I spent most of my summer working with kids, going on little adventures, and cleaning the junk out of my grandmother's house after she passed away this spring. I worked a summer parks program that acted as a daycare service for elementary school kids. It made me realize a few terrifying things.
I am old. I am an adult, most of these kids weren't born yet when the movie Cars came out.
Some people my age are having kids
I am just as close to the age of having kids as I am the age of being a kid.
I also began to contemplate the possibilities of fatherhood for the first time. I met a cute baby in line at the deli and I swear I felt an instinctual pull towards saying, "Hi honey, I'm Dad."
After work, I would go to neighboring towns with my friends, we'd go see a movie, we'd hike gorges and mountains and we'd eat out at some amazing places. It filled me with a lot of youth and vitality and reminded me that I am still very young and that I have a lot of living to do. I want to see the Grand Canyon. I want to climb up to Machu Picchu. I have so much left I want to do.
But when I had a minute, I helped my mom and her sister take mounds of random items out of closets and cupboards in my grandma's house. She passed away in March, and since then we've been preparing for an estate sale at the end of the summer. And I just got stuck. I felt for the first time that panicked realization that life is unbelievably short.
I realized that now is my optimum time to travel, to explore, to discover who I am and how I fit into this large, crazy world. Now is the time to see the streets of Bangkok, San Francisco and Paris. I have time for marriage and parenthood and careers in my 30s. However, now is also the time to be in school, which means now is the time to be broke. So I push it off. Then, I'll get my career going and do the traveling in my late 20s or early 30s, meaning marriage and parenthood have to wait until I'm 40. Well, then my kids will be 20 when I'm 60 and before they know it, I'll be gone.
I'm rambling, for sure, but it's a crazy, tethered world we live in. Sometimes, I just lay in the grass and think how nice it would be if we weren't bound to anything. If we could simply pick up everything we own and hit the road. I'd drive to Montana and sleep under the open skies. I'd hitchhike to Alaska and see the dense wildlife. I'd spend all my savings on a trip to Europe and just backpack my way across the continent and into Asia and Africa. I'd meet people from all walks of life, every sort of culture and background. I'd eat the local delicacies and learn their dances and songs.
But we live in a world dominated by money, tying us down to one place until we either succumb to it's weight or make enough of it take us anywhere. To get to Europe, I would need hundred's of dollars simply for the flight. To get to Montana, I would need thousands of dollars for a car. Leaving where I am would mean giving up on paying bills, making more money for the school year, throwing opportunities for careers out the window.
But in the end, when our kids are cleaning out our houses, when we've left this Earth, will it matter? Will our kids remember our career or our stories? Will they care more about the money we leave them, or the books we read to them, or the mementos they brought home from our family vacations? Life is entirely separate from money. It is made from our stories and our memories. Someday, I hope to get the courage to actually live it.