“I wish it was summer already.”
“I wish we didn’t have to go back home tonight.”
“I wish I could wear short shorts to school.”
“I wish the graduation ceremony wasn’t three hours.”
“I wish the water was warmer.”
“I wish I could sleep in tomorrow.”
All these wishes, while sitting on a paddle board floating in the middle of a blue lake on a picture-perfect 80° day at the end of May.
I almost hit her over the head with my kayak paddle.
“Stop. Stop this insanity,” I said. “You’ve spent the last ten minutes wishing for everything you don’t have right now. Look around you! Be happy in this moment we are in.”
She looked at me sheepishly, but also with worry as she wondered if I was about to start in on her about the meaning behind my favorite quote, which is well-known around our family (both the quote and my teaching moments where I like to use it as a springboard).
Of course I was.
Despite the obvious reason I launched into my lake lesson — the you-poor-child-who-happens-to-be-floating-on-the-lake part — the wishing-for-things-you-don’t-have attitude is one that I don’t have a lot of patience for, even if it is just to be able to wear short shorts.
I mean, I get it.
I do it from time to time (wish away moments, I mean. I haven’t worn short shorts since 1989).
We all do.
But it’s dangerous.
Wishing away moments; wishing for more; wishing things were different or better — it’s not a lot different than that other dangerous W word: worrying.
Time out for another favorite quote:
You know what these words are? Worthless. (I was on a W roll, people. It was working for me.)
Wishing away time and worrying about things you can’t control get you nowhere. And they both empty so much joy out of your present; out of the moments you should be draining the life out of, because guess what? Blink and they’re gone.
Soon you will find yourself at the end — be it summer, a great vacation, a period of time in your life, your life itself — and to look back and realize that you wasted all that time wishing for other things and worrying about things that never happened would be a damn shame.
Did I tell this to the 13-year-old?
I had her trapped out in the middle of the lake. Of course I did.
“Don’t be one of those people,” I told her. “The ones who never have enough. Make every day enough, because it is.”
I’m a real treat to be stuck in the middle of the lake with, aren’t I?
And then I splashed her with cold water from where I was floating and told her that when we are indeed in the middle of summer, when she’s lived through the “absolute torture” of her sister’s graduation ceremony, when she can sleep in and the water is warmer, and when she can wear short shorts anytime she wants — if she even thinks about wishing for cooler water or for it to be the beginning of summer I will take her back out to the middle of the lake and talk to her (again and in great detail) about sex and STDs.
I have a feeling she’ll be happy for her moments all summer long.
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