Recently someone told me during a conversation about the seasons of life that “the days are long but the years are short.” I’m sure that quote has been around forever, but it struck me as if those words were uttered for the very first time, and I’ve been thinking about it over the last week. Life does seem to speed up when we get older. And even though as an adult we may get better with planning and multitasking and being efficient in our work to save time, I’m noticing that the vast majority of adults I know go ahead and fill the time that they “saved” with more work.
That seems a bit crazy to me.
However, I’ll be honest and say that I have felt the same pull. Why is this?
Perhaps it just naturally happens over time for a number of reasons:
1) we work much more than we play during our lives, and so work may actually be a more comfortable way to spend our time
2) we feel guilty about pleasure, as if we will be negatively judged by others as irresponsible and self-indulgent and spoiled
3) we can always find more work to do – to earn more money, to prepare for old age, to take care of the house, to swoop in to help others, and
4) the years have slowly sapped our ability to really and deeply enjoy many things.
I’d like to really try to unpack #4. When I was a kid, what simple pleasures did I love?
- Archie comics
- Baseball cards
- My BB gun
- Calvin and Hobbes
- Music (so much!)
- Books (so many!)
I looked to each of these with unbridled anticipation and enthusiasm. I lost myself in each, and was able to forget my cares and obligations. And they challenged me, and excited me, and made me feel alive in a world that still felt so fresh and so full of promise.
But I don’t seem to have time for any of these simple pleasures any more. What I do have time for is moments of quiet desperation, full of all sorts of frantic questions: What is wrong with my life? Why can’t I find what I’m looking for? And what in the world I am even doing?
What is wrong with my life? Why can’t I find what I’m looking for? And what in the world I am even doing?
Tell me you can relate. Tell me you have similar moments of desperation. Perhaps not every day, but definitely sometimes, right?
Clearly, we have a problem.
Picking up any of those simple pleasures again and allowing myself to unconditionally enjoy them would be so great for my heart. So why have they been pushed outside the lanes of my life as I become more deeply entrenched in adulthood with every passing year? Why have they become so neglected when considering how good they made my heart feel back then?
As an adult, it’s easy to rationalize why we do what we do. I mean, adults don’t have time for the things that children have time for. That was then, and this is now, and frivolous fun or timepass doesn’t seem productive or wise when considering all we have on our plate. As an adult, the tyranny of the urgent seems to dictate how we spend our time, and as work gets busier and family gets busier we shrug our shoulders and assume that this is everyone’s fate. That this is how we must spend the rest of our years, eking out an existence so much more emotionally austere than the one we envisioned for our future when we were young.
As an adult, the tyranny of the urgent seems to dictate how we spend our time, and as work gets busier and family gets busier we shrug our shoulders and assume that this is everyone’s fate.
And even while steeling our face like flint to this jarring reality, many of us do reach out to God, and ask Him to be our joy, and to do something – anything – to make us feel like we used to feel back then. But perhaps we would do well to remember that He’s the one who created those simple pleasures we enjoyed so much as children, and He’s the one who made our hearts connect with them. He delights in us as we find delight in Him and His creation, since He richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Plus, we’re supposed to take care of – and care for – our heart above all else, which I believe includes the good things our heart once loved.
We would do well to remember that He’s the one who created those simple pleasures we enjoyed so much as children, and He’s the one who made our hearts connect with them.
I am well aware of the fact that life gets harder as we get older, and that could be the biggest reason why we forego simple pleasures. Frankly, many days it feels like we’re just trying to survive. But isn’t it arguable that because life gets harder and because we’re just trying to survive, we need to pursue and prioritize them more than ever? I believe we must unbury them from our past and immerse ourselves in them anew, for our own good.
For our own well-being.
Maybe not all of them, as perhaps that is “too much, too soon.”
But maybe we can just start with one.
And really allow ourselves to enjoy it deeply and fully – without thinking about all of the other things we have on our plate to do today.
Maybe it’ll rekindle in us something we thought was lost forever. And maybe it will makes us feel alive again in a world that still actually is so fresh and so full of promise.
I went unicycling today, and threw all of my other cares to the wind.
It was really fun. And my heart felt alive once again.
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