Last night I had a dream and the entire dream was looping footage. The footage was in the genre of those old 60’s family videos; grainy, square and silent. It was of me, Alissa and River. I was in my early 3o’s and wearing a slightly wrinkled white t-shirt, khakis that were rolled up but still wet at the bottom, and bare feet standing at the edge of a lake. Alissa was just a few feet to my left and I was grabbing up a 2 year old River and swinging him around playfully.
As I watched this repeat over and over I was keenly aware that people were watching this at my funeral. I couldn’t see them but I knew they were there. I could sense that they were thinking what I always thought when I would attend funerals and look at pictures of the deceased and their family; “These are those few seconds of visual media that sums up this person’s entire life”. I could almost hear their thoughts as they saw little River in the film and then looked over at this tall grown man and wondered whether or not he could remember that day when his dad was strong and quick and had most of his hair. They felt sad for him because who remembers things from when they were 2 years old?
But then I could feel that they were also sad for themselves, because my aging and death had made them realize that if they did a quick scan of their lives, only a few major events could be conjured up in complete clarity. And I felt that loss in my own heart because I remembered skipping through SO. MUCH. TIME. without really holding on to it as something precious.
And I wept.
I wept for the unfortunate state of being only a certain amount of “aware”. I wept that my default setting had been “just get through it”.
Staring at that home movie of myself play again and again, I wept myself awake. It was two minutes before my alarm was to go off and I lay there under the weight of what I’d just felt. A few breaths later soft radio static came out from behind the red numbers on my clock. It was time to start this day, this opportunity to notice what it feels like to be alive.
Later in the morning, I looked at my kids who are changing and growing so quickly and took mental footage of them as they sat there eating breakfast together, with a world of possibilities in front of them. I recognized that none of us are guaranteed another day, so this breakfast matters. This laugh with my family really matters as the coffee sits patiently in the corner of the counter, the sunlight reaches through the kitchen window, my boys exchange knowing glances as dad pontificates about living life with gratefulness, my baby girl tugs at my pants for me to pick her up, and my beautiful wife rushes around the house no doubt thinking about how handsome I look today in my slightly wrinkled white T-shirt.
Today I won’t live outside of my body looking out in the distance for another day. I will constantly inspect this one for its beauty, its joy, its sadness, its turmoil and let it happen under the peace of letting “now” matter.