I love my life. I really do. If I had to go back and do things all over again, there is very little I would change. That is because I am happy with where I am right now. I am in a good marriage, my kids are happy and healthy. We have a nice home and really lack for nothing. But just because I am happy does not mean that I don’t want anything to change. Lately, I feel like I am in a bit of a rut. I think I have been in a rut for a while and am just now noticing it. Let me give you an example of what I mean.
One night, last summer, I came home from my son’s basketball game to find my wife and two youngest kids out playing in the driveway. They were playing something that they have not done in what feels like years. They had drawn “roads” in chalk on our driveway and were riding their scooters and ripsticks on the roads, all over the place. My oldest son, who had just finished a basketball game and is 14, quickly showered, found something to eat and then came outside and found his old scooter and joined in on the fun. My wife and I grabbed a beer and all was right with the world.
It only got better…and worse. My oldest had to get up early because he had a sports camp the next day. Knowing this, and because he had two sport camps that morning and just finished two basketball games, he lets us know he is tired and needs to go to bed. My wife, who also needs to get up early in the morning, wants to get ready for the day by packing her bag and making her lunch, heads in soon after. Luckily for me, by daughter went inside and grabbed the tie-fleece blanket she made and lays it in the grass and asks me to lie down and snuggle with her. (When your 12 year old daughter asks you to snuggle, your heart is happier than if the Cubs were to win the World Series). Soon, my youngest son, who is 10, sees us and goes and gets his blanket. Instead of laying it on the grass, my daughter and I scoot over and make room for him, on her blanket, and we use his blanket for covers. For the next 15 minutes, we look at the stars and talk about space, aliens, our new house and God. It was a moment that I wished would never end.
Then I had to think about the next day. My daughter had a camp to get up for. I was the one who had to wake my oldest son up early and get them all breakfast. I had responsibilities the next day that I would want to be rested for and then I spoke. “Time for bed. We have things to do tomorrow and we can’t just lay here.” My kids gave the perfect reaction. They both protested. The wanted 5 more minutes. They wanted more time with peace in their hearts and mystery and wonder on their minds. So I answered the way all parents do. “You always ask for 5 more minutes. I’m sorry but it is time for bed. Let’s get going.” I wasn’t mean about it, but I regretted it as soon as I said it. I wanted 5 more minutes also, but I let my day tomorrow, and things we had said “yes” to months before, have to big an influence on our lives in the present moment.
And why are the kids in the activity to begin with? Because my wife and I work and we need to keep the occupied during the day. Why do we work? So we can have a house, clothes, food, vacation, a bigger house, newer cell phone, more expensive car, etc…
All of those things are good. Well, at their essence they are good, but they can be too much. We think the newer cell phone is fantastic because it does more for us, but in the end, do we have to do more to have it? We enroll our kids in activities and sports because they enjoy them and get exercise and learn how to work as a team, but is this the only way to accomplish these things? Is it worth the weekends that we again wake up early to get to a game to watch our kid play 3 minutes and to score one basket (or play the entire game and score the winning basket)? Is the self-worth that comes from that basket really all that it is cracked up to be? Is time driving kids around, shoving food in our face, trying to coordinate schedules that won’t coordinate, worth the stress, money and time that is involved.
Do we miss to many nights, laying out and looking at the stars with our kids under blankets, because of decisions we made, which sound good at the time, but are exhausting in the end?
Now, perhaps I am being a little too cynical about it all right now. There are times, when I see the smile on my children’s faces when they are doing something they enjoy that we have signed them up for or succeed on the playing field. But, I also see the joy in their hearts when there is no pressure on them to “succeed” and “do.” I feel the peace in their souls when they have time to wonder. And to be honest, it is really about them. I know the joy in my heart and the peace in my soul when I am not rushing around trying to be successful, whether that is through my kids or in my job…and I want more of it.
That is what this blog is about. I want to be intentional about what I do and what I feel. I don’t want simply to say yes to doing something 3 months from now because it sounds good right now. I want the “future me” to be happy with the “past me.” I don’t want to do things because I feel I have to, because everyone else is doing it, but because that is what I want to do.
I want the decisions I make today to create the life I want tomorrow…and the life I want today.
The logo for this blog, “The Intentional Project” is a sunburst. I like it for several reason, mainly because, if you look closely, you will notice one of the rays is different from the others. It is not drastically different, but it is not the same. That is what I think it means to be intentional. Being intentional in your life does not mean that it will be drastically different from everyone else’s (although it could be). I think, on the surface, it could look very similar. I am a dad who is married with 3 kids. I don’t think I am about to pick up and travel the world bringing them all in tow (although, that is a dream). I think being intentional is more about being conscious (or mindful, to use a word that is hot right now) about the way that I parent, the way that I am a husband about the way that I live. I am mindful of thoughts and decisions and am doing what I want to do, not what society tells me I should do. I might make some of the same decisions that I would have without being mindful, but they will be my decisions. I might make decisions that make my life look very different and people will wonder what the hell I am doing. That is good also.
If you any of the above rings true for you, keep reading in the future. If any of the above are thoughts that you have been having also, keep reading. Comment. Write back. Write on your own. Talk. I don’t have life figured out. Far from it. But I am trying. I want to be intentional. If you are trying and want to be intentional also, good job. Let’s help each other.