Not long ago I sat in the bleachers looking down on a class of eighth-grade students taking their seats for a middle school graduation. They walked into the room in alphabetical order, but it was easy to spot the jocks, the geeks, the nerds, the goths, the cheerleaders, the mean girls, and the band kids not by what they wore, but by the way they carried themselves. As they took their seats, I wondered what they were thinking about as they marked this milestone in their life.
Were they thinking about going to high school? I was certain most were. Many of them probably had chosen a college, selected a career, and planned the size of their future family. I imagined when they thought of themselves as adults they simply saw an adult-version of who they were on this day. This self-awareness, if they possessed it at that time, had a far greater potential to be life limiting than they surely realized.
I’m sure they didn’t understand that each of us should constantly be growing.
I can’t imagine now that any of them really knew how every-day living would shape them far beyond the vision they had of themselves that day, or how each person they would encounter in their lives—from that day forward—would help them become, or in some cases make them, different people.
We do become much different people as we grow older and not just in the physical sense. Our hopes change, and so do our dreams. Our goals, achievements, memories, and feelings each have a different meaning than they did when were younger. I like to think we get a few gifts, too, as we add the years: We all gain experience, many of us gain wisdom, and some us are fortunate enough to earn a little more respect, if not by our accomplishments, most certainly by what we have endured.
I hope that we’ve found a wider sense of our own purpose, too.
Somewhere along the way, if we have listened closely to life’s teachings, we should have also learned that while our lives are ours to live as we see fit, we are most fulfilled when we share our lives with each other. I have always believed that some people come into our lives to teach us, while others come to learn from us. We will encounter very few people who can balance the teaching-learning scale and we we do find them, we should make sure we never let them leave. Of course, we have to balance their scales, too.
Here’s a secret I’ve learned: We are defined not by the events of our lives, but by the people whom we have known.
The people we meet, the people we choose to invite into our lives, the people we love, and the people we lose; all of them make us who we are and they never stop coming or going as long as we’re breathing. No matter how old we are at this very moment, we are not now, who we will become, because of this never-ending stream of people who touch us in ways that we often never realize in the present.
It’s the people in our lives who fuel our perpetual state of becoming.
My grandfather always told me, “Time flies; the older you get, the faster it goes.” We all know that time moves at a constant speed throughout life, so it is not that the seconds click by faster. Instead, I think what he meant was that as we get older we begin to understand how precious the moments of life are because age grants us a higher sense of appreciation and purpose for the gift of our own lives, and for the lives of others we have come to know.
No, you are not now, who you will become. Neither is anyone else.
What are you going to do about it?
Remember, time flies.