If we have time..

A few months ago, I was driving back home from visiting the place where I grew up. Around dinner time, I stopped in at a spot my family and I vacationed at for many years when I was a child. The whole weekend had been one long nostalgia trip, so I decided to complete the effect by visiting an area where so many happy memories were made when I was younger. The place is called Fort Wilderness. It’s a resort and campground located across the lake from the Magic Kingdom of Walt Disney World. And as I walked around, every sight and smell and sound was beckoning me back to those blissful days of my youth with my grandparents, parents, brother, and sisters.

As I was walking along, I was thinking about how much I missed those days with my family. And then I started to think about my own family. My wife and my children. I wished they were there with me, that we were on vacation together in this magical place, taking in all of the sights and sounds and smells together.

It was in the middle of this ethereal mix of reminiscing and longing that I overheard a conversation by a father and his toddler son who had just gotten off the boat. It went like this…

Toddler: “Can we go on the wittle park?”

Dad: “Umm, if we have time.”

If you have time? My blood grew warmer. Here I was willing to give anything to have my children next to me in this moment and this guy seemed as if he was taking his son’s presence for granted. I wanted to grab that father. I wanted to put my hands on his upper arms and shake some sense into him. I wanted to get up in his face and plead, “This is the only time! Don’t you see? This is the only time you have! Don’t you know what you’ve got here? These days where children are completely dependent upon you and adore you and think you can do no wrong? These times when all a child wants to do is spend time with you? Don’t you get it? This is the only time you have! Soon they’ll grow up and the last thing they’ll want is to play on a playground with you, “wittle” or otherwise. This is the only time.”

But it wasn’t really that father I wanted to grab and shake and demand that he pay more attention to his children and live in the moment with them while they are small. It was another father. One who looks like me, only about seven years younger. One who said “if we have time” so many times, never realizing the incongruity of the phrase.

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13 surprisingly simple ideas about marriage

“I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.” – Rita Rudner

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I always hated marriage seminars. Those events where an annoyingly happy and perfect couple tells you all the things you are doing wrong and how to fix it so you can become blissful and float along on clouds of happiness like they do.

Ok, I’m a bit cynical. But I always left those things feeling worse about myself, and frustrated because I knew I would never be able to live up to the standard they were presenting. It just wasn’t realistic.

I’ve been married over seventeen years now. I’ve learned some things, all of them pretty much the hard way. So I’ll save you the money and self-esteem hit of a marriage seminar and share with you some of the insights I’ve gleaned from the journey. It’s been a long and often difficult path, mostly because I’m a terribly selfish person a lot of the time. But it’s also been the most fulfilling road I’ve ever walked down. Marriage is an institution where you can be known for all of your ugliness and still get to be a part of something beautiful. No other institution can promise that. Not the workplace, not the education system, and, sadly, not even the church. Everywhere else we hide who we really are. In marriage, you can’t hide. That’s terrifying, but it’s also a key to living freely.

How do you get there? It’s a process, but here are 13 things I know…

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13 lists for 2013

I’m not superstitious, but I am a little stitious.” – Michael Scott, The Office

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Unlike Stevie Wonder, I’m not very superstitious.

I’m am a tad OCD, which can sometimes feel like the same thing.

But one thing I’ve always tried to avoid is the number thirteen. I don’t know why, but if I have the choice I usually stay away from it. Completely irrational and silly, I know. But I never leave the car or TV volume on 13, I make sure I put either twelve or fourteen gallons of gas in my car, and I always stop at a dozen peanut butter cups. I just try to stay away from it.

Then came January 1. And I can’t dodge it anymore. It’s the year 2013. And this past Sunday there were 2 thirteens in the date for the first time in almost 100 years, as will the case be eleven more times this year. It’s inescapable. This is the year of thirteen. Then I started thinking about how really silly it is to feel any number is taboo. My idol growing up was Miami Dolphins QB, Dan Marino. To this day, he’s still my favorite pro athlete of all time. His number? 13. My son plays a lot of basketball. He wears the number of his basketball hero, Steve Nash. I bet you can guess his number. So my two favorite athletes ever wear number thirteen. Maybe it’s time to not only stop avoiding it, but choose it, feature it, embrace it.

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