Sitting here watching all of the commuters running for busses, I wonder where each is going. Are they running because they’re late or because they can’t wait to start their day? It’s graduation time again and I’m wondering how many of them this morning are “living the dream” that they envisioned on the day of their own graduation. This week, in my community of faith, as part of my pastoral opportunity, I am in a group that is reviewing applications for scholarships that we are privileged to be the stewards of. There are plenty of dreams listed. I can’t help but wonder how many of these will be realized. Where will they be running off to on a Wednesday morning, some years down the road?
We live in the land of dreams, where we tell our wide eyed graduates that the world is their oyster, ready to be plucked from the sea. We don’t tell them about oil spills that may threaten to destroy the oyster of their dreams. We avoid the difficult conversations of failure and the trials of tragedy that may lie just down the road. We have no way of knowing and even if we did, they don’t want to hear it any more than an engaged couple wants to hear about the complexities of marriage. They are, as we were, free to be anything and everything.
Graduation speakers like to say things like “be all you can be” … oh wait, that’s Army recruiters…whatever. You can be whatever you dream that you can be. You can go wherever your dreams take you. It’s popular. It’s inspiring. It sells books. It’s also a load of crap. Well, to be fair, not all of it is. However, what we should be telling them is that you can do, see, and become whatever you’re engaged in. The issue is not the dreams. The issue is in showing up to engage the process that leads there. We’re not a generation of problem solvers anymore. We’re a generation that runs from them. If your marriage isn’t all that you dreamed it would be, run. If your job isn’t all you imagined it would be, run. If it seems that life hasn’t given you enough, run. It would be disingenuous of me to say that running is never the answer. It very well may be the end answer, but it should never be the first response. Sometimes the only way to move forwards is to go backwards and discover where you might have wandered from the path and to reengage the journey from there.
As a fairly new grandpa to a beautiful little princess, I wonder if that’s not part of the joy that I feel spending time with her. Even though I imagine that I was a decent parent, with Lily there is a chance to reengage a part of that journey and to do some things differently. In her life, I have the privilege to go backwards even as I am still moving forward. If you are presently a parent, it might be that all you need to do, in order to go back and reengage a relationship that is not what you had always imagined, is to say you’re sorry. Use a “do-over” if you need to. Teach your kids that life is not necessarily linear like we’d like it to be. Sometimes you have to go backwards to move forwards… to learn from mistakes…. to reengage the dream. Someday, some years down the road, maybe I’ll see them running….and it won’t be because they’re late. It’ll be because they can’t wait to get back to their dream.