Quite often I hear people say something like, “I can’t wait until…”, where the “until” is somewhere in the future, sometimes many months or even years. I hear people say at Thanksgiving that they can’t wait until Christmas (like I did last week) because it’s the most wonderful time of the year. I hear people say at Christmas that they can’t wait until New Year’s because with the new year is a new start, resolutions and all. I hear people say in January and February that they can’t wait until spring when it starts getting warmer, and the trees and flowers come back to life. I hear people say in April and May that they can’t wait until summer when the weather gets really nice and they can take a vacation. I hear people say in August that they can’t wait until the fall when it’s a little cooler, the kids go back to school and the leaves on the trees turn amazing colors. I hear people say in October that they can’t wait for Thanksgiving because… On and on it goes.
What’s the matter with right now? It seems that we as humans are always looking to the future, looking forward to something further on down the line, something that isn’t… now. Whatever it is, it can never come too fast and it always takes too long to get to that point. Too many times, the things we’re so looking forward to finally come and they disappoint us because they don’t live up to what we built up in our minds. What then? Well, we already have the next thing to look forward to.
I remember growing up and looking ahead to many things and feeling like it was taking so long to get there. As I’ve mentioned before, I always looked forward to the day I could beat my older brothers at something, or at least be as good at something as them. When I finally got there, it didn’t matter because they had moved forward just as I had. Around 4th grade I started looking ahead to the day I’d leave elementary school and go to junior high school (what’s now middle school) in 7th grade. While it was nice to leave the “little kids” behind, I quickly found out how much I missed, and never appreciated, recess. When I was in junior high I looked forward to the day I’d go to high school because that meant I wasn’t a kid anymore. But when you’re a freshman and the low man on the totem pole, you’re still a kid to all the upper classmen and you’re treated as such.
When I was first in high school I couldn’t wait until I got my license and could drive, then I would have true freedom! However, there was often not a car available and when it was, most times there was an errand that had to be run as part of being able to use the car. So before I could go out with my friends I had to run to the store and get some milk or bread or something. Oh, yeah, don’t forget to put some gas in the tank, too. I guess I learned that with freedom comes responsibility – and expenses. When I was in my junior year of high school I couldn’t wait until senior year when we would be top dogs of the school. Then senior year went by so quick that we never really got to savor our lofty position and it was on to college.
After two years of college I couldn’t wait until college was done. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, I truly did. I loved the schedule, the way you didn’t have to go to class, the way the professors treated you like an intelligent young adult, not a kid. But I was tired of the homework, the studying and trying to get everything done while working 30 hours or more a week. Two years later, my last final finally arrived and I whipped through it feeling elated as I passed it in to my professor, thinking that I’d never have to do this again. A few of us finished at the same time and talked in the hallway as we went to our cars. One person was going to grad school, another person already had a job and the rest were going to start looking for a job. However, I had never thought that far ahead; I just wanted to be finished with college. I got to my car and just sat there thinking the same thought for ten or fifteen minutes, “Oh my gosh. I’m done with college and I HAVE TO GET A REAL JOB!” I felt like that was it, my carefree, young adult days were over and now I had to get a full-time job and be an (gulp) adult. I turned the key, took one last look around and started driving home. That ride home was the longest, most depressing ride I had ever been on. In a short amount of time, maybe half an hour, I had gone from the highest elation to the lowest depression, all because “I couldn’t wait until…”
Now that I’ve hit the half century mark I have a bit of a different attitude, or maybe perspective. I feel like the passing of time is going faster and faster every year, not staying the same and definitely not slowing down. If there were a Father Time, I’d find out where he lives and tell him to knock it off, to stop speeding up time for me. I’d tell him I want time to pass as slow as it did when I was in elementary school, when it seemed like the school year took forever; like it did when my brothers were always bigger, stronger and better at sports than me; like it did when eighteen seemed like it was so far away that I’d never get there. I’d tell him to ease back on the throttle a bit; that it’s OK, because I CAN wait until Christmas and New Year’s and spring. I like right now and want to enjoy it a little longer before it’s gone.