Today’s view begins behind drawn curtains but will end with a view of endless wonder. I was reading this morning, as is my habit to try to expand my knowledge beyond that of a simple guardian, and was struck by how difficult it was to answer two very easy yet terrifying questions.
The first question I have asked myself perhaps a thousand times but the wording was such that I had to choke back and realized that I knew not what the answer truly was. I have asked myself “what would I try to teach my children if I knew I had only minutes to live?” I have confidently answered this question many times in my mind as I prepared myself for the challenges of fatherhood. Honor, I say to myself, and ideals are the values that I wish to impart. Something cliché such as to leave the world better for your having been upon it.
But alas that was not the question which stopped me before I took the time to look out of the window. The question asked of me was, “If I knew I had only thirty seconds to live, what three things would I teach my children about how to live a happy and fulfilled life?”
My pulse quickened even as I re-read the dastardly note. A Happy life? Why I don’t know what I would say! I turn from my window to glance upon a mirror on the wall. Have I lived a happy life? I query my own image. Can I even define happiness? Were I to pass today, this very moment, I would not be able to impart guidance of any value to them for I am not sure that I have completely lived a “happy” life. I have enjoyed friends and celebrations, have experienced true romance and passion. I have “felt” happy, but cannot say for certain that I have lived a “happy” life.
I smile almost daily, surely that’s it, that is the sign of my happy life right? We cannot really smile if we are not happy. So that must be it, I would tell them to make up their mind to just “be” happy. I can see my son looking right through me as he asks the question that many a young person has asked, “how?” I don’t know. That is all that I could say. Make a decision to be happy, but its not that simple is it? What kind of father could I be if I do not know how to teach my kids to be happy?
Before I could even begin to recover from this trauma to my fragile ego and psyche, the next question finished the job of melting away any semblance of belief in my own mastery of my life.
“If I could achieve one single thing in my life,” the written words taunt,” what would make all of my hard work worth the struggle?” Once again, I beseech the mirror; please tell me that you know, for I haven’t the foggiest! The truth is painful; I cannot answer the second question even an inch better than the first.
I try to think past material wealth and the well-being of my offspring, but is that all that we live for? Is our life’s mission to revolve solely around our children and take us past our own desires? I had desires once. I knew what I thought that I wanted. I have achieved so much yet cannot point to a single thing to say that one thing is worth all of the work and effort and blood and tears. Surely it must be my children, but why doesn’t my heart leap at that answer?
The answer to both is simple. The answer to both questions is that I do not know, but my journey is set to help me find out. We go through our daily lives looking and seeing but not searching. The meaning, the one thing which brings everyone happiness, the one moment that shows the victor that the spoils of his victory are out there if only we knew we were searching for them.
Today I will look out my window with a desperate desire to know myself and know my destiny better than before. I can no longer just look outside of my window but search within and without until I find that which is out there awaiting my embrace. Out there I will find the answer to who I am and how can I know that I have accomplished that which our Creator sent me here to do? I turn the corner of the little book; I rest it on my shelf knowing that someday I will again take it up, once I know the answer. Until then, the search continues…