Tuesday, August 7, 2018

When Should You Get a Restart Button?

When Should You Get a Restart Button?

Many of us have read The Station by Robert J. Hastings at some point in our lives.  It never gets old or dated.  It is always a fresh message.  It always bears repeating.  It is unadulterated truth.  Read it.  Think about it.  Here is a portion:

"Tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic vision.  We see ourselves on a long trip that spans the continent.  We are traveling by train.  Out the windows we drink in the passing scene of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at a crossing, of cattle grazing on a distant hillside, of smoke pouring from a power plant, of row upon row of corn and wheat, of flat lands and valleys, of mountains and rolling hillsides, of city skylines and village halls.

But uppermost in our minds is the final destination.  Bands will be playing and flags waving.  Once we get there our dreams will come true, and the pieces of our lives will fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.  How restlessly we pace aisles, cursing the minutes for loitering - waiting, waiting, waiting for the station."

The station is a dream - it constantly outdistances us

"When we reach the station, that will be it!" we cry.

"When I turn 18."

"When I buy a new Lexus!"

"When I put the last kid through college."

"When I have paid off the mortgage!"

"When I get a promotion."

"When I reach the age of retirement, I shall live happily ever after!"

Sooner or later we must realize there is no station, no one place to arrive at once and for all.  The true joy of life is the trip.  The station is only a dream.  It constantly outdistances us.

Regret and fear 

It isn't the burdens of today that drive us mad.  It is the regrets over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow.  Regret and fear are twin thieves who rob us of today. 

Your Ideal Restart Button

"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years."--Mark Twain.

Has that thought ever crossed your mind as you entered your twenties? 

It is an enlightening moment when we realize the need for advice from our parents.  I don't think someone wakes up one morning and feels the need for parental wisdom but at some point most of us realize our parents possessed a lot of knowledge.  Much of it is based on experience rather than education.  I remember thinking my dad was foolish and decrepit in his thinking.  When he became wise, it was almost too late as both of my parents died when I was quite young.

What about having a reset button around 26 years old that would take you back to when you were 14?  Would you have lived your life differently?  

The Perfect Parent

As a new parent, how many of us have made the conscious decision to be perfect?  Of course, that would also require perfect children.  I think most of us have been around long enough to comprehend that is never the case.  

I certainly have known parents who believe their children can do no wrong or that they are 'perfect' but it is usually a lonely place to be.  Other people would be quick to point out how misinformed they may be.

I can't imagine how boring it would have been to have perfect children, or a perfect life, for that matter.  And what is your definition of perfect?

But....as parents we make mistakes.  Some of these mistakes are life-changing and some can cause extreme pain or sadness.  At this point, would we want a reset button?  Given the same circumstances, would we respond the same or would that experience help us to rethink our decision?

A Trial Marriage

After surviving a painful marriage and an ugly divorce, a friend told me "Everyone is entitled to a trial marriage."  That may offend some people but for those of us who suffered guilt by not being able to make it "work," it helps ease the stigma.  Especially after finding true love later in life, we are cognizant of our past errors and learn from them.

Estranged Children

This is a subject I am far too familiar with.  It is a painful life full of memory triggers.  "What if I had been more tolerant, more lenient, more patient, less rigid, less demanding......"  We live with the 'what ifs' and the 'if onlys.'  

After months or even years, we began to understand that the decision our estranged child made was his alone.  There is always room for discussion or negotiation.  But if that child is not willing to talk about it, there is little we can do to create that scenario.  That painful story you may relate with is here.

Reliving it a thousand times, we realized there was little to nothing we could have done differently.  That is when we let go of the guilt and even the shame.

A Bad Decision

What would life be like to have lived it by only making the right decisions?  By never making a mistake?  By being wise with our finances or our time?  

A dear friend of mine asked me the other day,  "Is it fair?  Is it fair that some people have such an easy life?  Is it fair they are enjoying their retirement years after raising great kids who then had super little ones?  They are mortgage and debt free.  They take long vacations to exotic places.  They still have a huge circle of friends.  Is that fair when I have to suffer so much?"

Life is lived as we go through it

There are many things in life we will never understand.  But no matter what life puts on our plate, it is what we do with it that makes the difference.  Any experience, no matter how awful, can teach us a lesson.  And more importantly, those experiences teach us to be empathetic and understanding to someone who may be weaker and need our strength because we walked through that same hell.

So stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles.  Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot more often, swim more rivers, take some risks, watch more sunsets, LAUGH more and cry less.

The station will come soon enough. 

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