Friday, November 27, 2015

Loading Zone by Carolyn

I have been plagued by an excess of "loading" lately, which probably means I have been watching too much video of one sort or another. You know what I mean - that "loading, please wait" message you get when you want to watch something on the computer or on TV, and the video is not quite ready for viewing. Loading drives me crazy: I want to watch that video RIGHT NOW!! Unfortunately, the video is not ready to be watched. Whatever mysterious things all of these devices have to do in order to play a video has not been completed. It is just not ready.

Sometimes it seems we spend our lives waiting for something-or-other to load so we can experience it. When I was a child I would voice my wish for time to pass faster, "I wish it was Christmas already!" or "I can't wait until I'm 16 (or whatever age sounded appealing at the time)." My mother, wise woman that she was, would say, "Don't wish your life away." I am afraid that we often tend to consider the present as just a waiting period until some much-anticipated outcome occurs. When we are children, we are waiting to become teenagers. When we are teenagers we are anxious to become adults. If we are single, we are waiting until we find our soulmate to marry. If we are childless, we can't wait to become parents. I was talking to someone last week about how quickly the phases of our children's lives pass. She agreed and said she felt so guilty because with her first child, she was always thinking, "I can't wait until he rolls over (sits up, crawls, walks, can feed himself, is potty trained . . .)." She knows now that she should have savored each and every moment of her child's development, instead of viewing each stage as a prelude for the next. She has plans to enjoy more and rush less with her second child. Although I enjoyed being in college, I was in a hurry to graduate. (At the time I thought I would be marrying my then-boyfriend. I was mistaken.) I took 21 hours a semester, attended summer classes, and worked part time. I graduated at the ripe old age of 20, and have been a "responsible adult" ever since. What was I thinking? I had a good thing going, and rushed through it without taking the time to really savor it. I guess I saw college as something you had to go through to begin the real part of your life. Foolish, foolish girl! It makes me wonder if I am doing the same thing now: waiting for Mr. Right to show up at my front door, waiting until I retire to start doing things I want to do, waiting until I have more money to travel, etc. I have come to the realization within the last few years that the majority of my regrets about how I have lived my life are not about what I did, but rather about the things I did not do. Too much time spent loading, in the sense of waiting for the movie to play.

Maybe, however, there is another way of looking at loading - preparing for something good, working toward a goal, gathering our resources to put them toward a worthwhile effort. I've heard that athletes "carb load" before a big game or prior to running the marathon. I have no personal experience with that kind of loading, you understand, being the antithesis of an athlete, but it makes sense - being proactive by giving your body a lot of the fuel it will need to perform at its best. A student might load his/her brain by studying thoroughly and wisely before a big test. I can even envision pregnancy as an opportunity to load (no, I don't mean to gain weight!) the emotional capacity and parental know-how that will be needed in the near future. As parents, we want to help our children load everything they will need to know as they grow up so they will be healthy and happy and productive adults. Attending college should definitely be considered a time of loading for your whole future, but also a time of enjoyment and exploration. Building academic knowledge, learning how to get along with all kinds of other people, working out the details of time management and fiscal responsibility, figuring out who you really are and who you want to be - the perfect opportunity for loading. Maybe middle age should be considered a time of loading for old age, certainly financially, but we should also be gaining wisdom and tolerance and self-confidence so that we can live out the balance of our lives content with ourselves and the choices we have made, and do whatever we can to be a blessing to others. So while we live, we should take opportunities to load, in the sense of using our time and resources wisely to handle whatever the world brings us, and enjoy the ride while we do.

We should be the video, not the passive waiter-and-watcher of the video.

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