One of Adultitis’ best tricks — and the one that trips me up the most — is getting us to believe that the most important things in life are merely distractions.
My youngest daughter routinely asks me for piggy back rides. Most of the time I say yes. But sometimes I’m tired, or want to keep reading the book I just opened five seconds ago.
And sometimes I’m too focused on the latest pet project that I’m convinced will deliver a windfall of profit and impact. The justification for brushing off this minor “distraction” of my daughter pestering me for a piggy back ride is that, in the end, this effort will bear fruit that will benefit us all.
If I’m not careful, this so-called “drive” rockets me right by the stuff that really matters.
Don’t get me wrong. Piggy back rides don’t pay the bills. Little worthwhile is accomplished without focus, hard work, and sacrifice. The challenge is how easy it is for this to become our default mode. Like a Ferrari flying down the highway, all the best bits of scenery are lost in a blur.
So we become consumed with things like disconnecting from our family to plow through homework so we can get that degree, spending night after night out networking with big shots so we can advance our career, and trading weekends to catch up on everything that fell by the wayside thanks to the whirlwind that was our week.
I want to live life with as few “I wish I wouldas” as possible. I used to think that because I was deftly avoiding the trap of chasing a run up the corporate ladder, or pursuing bigger and better stuff, I was in the clear. But then I realized that chasing anything big — however noble it may be — brings with it the risk of missing out on the small things.
And in the end, we find that the small things were the big things after all.
I’m starting to understand that avoiding regret isn’t just about saying yes to the impressive, once-in-a-lifetime adventures. Sometimes it’s as simple as saying yes to Ginny every single time she asks for a piggy back ride.
When she is twenty-five, I have a feeling I’d be more than willing to part with a million dollars for just one more.
I don’t write these things because I have them figured out. I write them because I need to be reminded.