Rushing through a short life

People often approach me at work and ask, “What is the quickest possible way to (Fill-in-the-blank)? I’m in a hurry and this place is ridiculous.”

The tone is generally less than pleasant. They stare at me with contempt, as if I were the very source of their frustration, the evil mastermind behind the labyrinth that now holds them hostage—You’ll never escape. Muahahahaha!

The question would be fair if we were standing in, say, a gas station or a small department store, but it’s a 300,000+ sq. ft. building. I always want to ask the customer, “What were you thinking when you pulled up to the gigantic blue box with thousands of parking spaces? ‘I should be able to make it through here on my lunch break, no sweat.'”

Of course, I never ask this question because I rather enjoy employment. There’s just something about the ability to pay bills and buy food.

But I’ve noticed that many people approach life with the same hurried, frustrated tone.

“What is the quickest way to the season of life where I’ll be financially independent?”

“Where is the spouse department? I feel like I’ve been looking for years and I want to be there right now.”

“Where are the shortcuts to my dream job?”

Patience is a virtue few possess. Something happens to us at about age ten; it’s like we stop playing long enough to notice the faint ticking of the clock. Being a teenager seems much cooler than being a kid, and so it begins. Twelve-year-olds can’t wait to turn sixteen, to finally have a driver’s license. Sixteen-year-olds want to be eighteen and out of high school. From eighteen, the goal is twenty-one, official adulthood, then twenty-five and so on.

Often, we live with an if only mentality. “If only I were at this stage I would be happy.”

And so we stand, looking at the enormity of life, and assume we should be able to glide through with ease and quickly arrive at our ideal location.

Frustration comes when we realize the walk is much longer than expected. A friend of mine made this statement a while back:

Gosh, can I just be 30 yet? I want a steady job, and my own house and family. I’m done being a youngin’.

Notice the presumption. Somehow, fast-forwarding to a certain age guarantees financial stability and a happy family, as if there is a light at the end of adolescence that melts worries and relationship conflict. If only.

In reality, it is often the way life is handled presently that affects both the trajectory and the quality of life in the future.

The world is full of thirty year olds that wish they could go back and do things differently. Someone said, “The present is a gift.” I agree. Rushing towards the future only makes an already short life even shorter.

What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
(James 4:14 ESV)

All the older people I know wish they could go back in time, not speed it up. They recognize the brevity of this vapor we call life. Cherish it. Learn from each season. Look forward to the future, but don’t waste time staring at the clock.

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Photo Credit: Kevin H. (Creative Commons)

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