I have to confess to a late-in-life enjoyment for country music, which I loathed with a passion when I was young. Then it was all rock and roll that spoke to my soul, the music carrying me outside myself while connecting with something inside that was primal and fierce. Now, though, I find that I pay as much or more attention to the words as I do to the music, and those words speak to the writer in me.
On the way to work last week, KJJY played a Kenny Chesney song about a girl growing up, how she kept wishing for the next phase in her life and how those around her kept telling her to slow down, enjoy what she had. I got to thinking about my own life and how much like that girl in the song I had always been. As a teenager, I wanted my freedom from parental restriction, the chance to make it on my own, to be out from under anyone’s thumb, no matter how loving. And then when I had that, I wished for the June Cleaver marriage and babies, where the kitchen was always neat and clean, the children got into only laughable scrapes, and June ruled over her household in pearls and high heels. Then it was wishing for the children to move on so I could enjoy life.
That last sentence is what hit me as I listened to Kenny singing "You're Gonna Miss This." Enjoy life. Just what had I been doing all those years? Going through the motions? After a lot of thought I had to admit, sometimes, yes. I had spent a fair number of those years just marking time until the next phase, and now I look back on it, it’s too bad that I did, because I missed out on a lot of enjoyment at the time.
That was the whole message of that song. Enjoy it while you have it. Give it all you’ve got right now and stop wishing for the next step. That next step comes along when you’re not even watching for it. Don’t blink or this one will go past and you’ll never even notice. And then when you look back on it, you’ll miss what you had.
We do it all the time. I hear it at work. Is it five o’clock yet? Is it Friday yet? I can’t wait until my vacation in August. My children do it. My neighbors do it. We’re all guilty of being so busy looking ahead that we forget to pay attention to what’s going on right under our noses. It’s a hard habit to break, and maybe to some extent, it’s wired into us. But I’ve realized that the older I get, the less ‘forward’ there is to look toward.
So I’m cranking back my fast forward button to normal speed and trying to take the time to enjoy what I have here and now. I can’t ever rewind to where I was, and I do indeed miss those days before. I regret the chances lost and the good times ignored while I was busy reaching for something new. I’m trying to experience everything that comes my way and not chafe under what I perceive as restrictions.
I don’t want to miss any of this.