People are fascinated by the concept of time travel. I can understand why.
Only God is not limited by time or space.
However, we as human beings are stuck in the 70 year lifespan we are assigned. No such thing as a re-do for even just one day.
We can at least learn from our mistakes, but we can’t go back in time to change our past in order to ultimately change our future.
Still though, I think I keep secretly hoping that one day I can. It’s stupid to think that, I know.
I could have been a much more knowledgeable, helpful husband and father and son and brother and friend if only I knew then what I know now.
Not being able to time-travel puts us in an annoying situation where we have to make things right, ourselves- as people allow us, after the fact.
Saturday, Mommy picked up Frozen (more on that in the next letter) for you from Redbox and a movie called, About Time, for her and me.
When I saw the cover with Rachel McAdams, I assumed it was just another version of The Notebook.
I was wrong. It was more of a barely R-rated version of Marley And Me, without the dog, but with a plot line involving time travel.
It features the close relationship between a father and his adult son, as they both are able to time-travel to events in their own life in order to relive them for the better.
They eventually begin reliving each day, right after it happens, in an effort to catch all the subtleties they missed the first time.
There are those missed opportunities to smile at someone, to make someone laugh, or to just simply appreciate the otherwise uninteresting parts of life with the people they encounter.
The son begins realizing he no longer needs to go back and relive each day, as he sharpens his ability to truly appreciate those “lesser” moments. He begins enhancing the lives of his family, and strangers, in the process.
But I guess I don’t have to time-travel to learn that same lesson.
Actually, I feel that watching the movie twice over the weekend has actually helped changed my thinking for the better.
The movie points out that we are all travelling through time each day and it’s up to us how we manage that time the first and final time through it.
It just so happens, you and I are travelling through time together. You’re stuck with me, kid.
I loved that the theme song of the movie, which is featured throughout, is “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds. That was the song that Mommy and I had for “our song” at our wedding nearly 6 years ago.
“The Luckiest” points out how much it matters that two people are born in the same span in the history of the world so that they can know each other and be close.
Had I been born a hundred years ago and Mommy was born in 1981, as she truly was, then you wouldn’t exist. The three of us wouldn’t exist as a family.
But I believe we were meant to be together in this life in which we travel through time together.
This movie, About Time, helped remind me just how special and important it is to be alive during the time I am… with the people I am here with.
My love for you is not based on a law; nor could it even be. After all, there is no law that can force people to love each other.
Same thing goes for my love for Mommy. Sure, we have a marriage license (as recognized by the state of Tennessee) and were were married in a church (in front of God and other believers)… but I can’t be forced to love Mommy, or you.
Yet I do anyway. I choose to. I want to.
On a global scale, I believe that if everyone truly loved each other as much as they did themselves, the world wouldn’t need laws; nor would there be wars… nor would there be rich people or poor people, escpecially to the degree that people are starving.
Despite a person’s acceptance level in regards to Jesus and what He taught and claimed, I think there’s no denying He spoke some truth when He summarized it this way:
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ -Matthew 22:37-39
But since not everyone does love their neighbors as much as they do themselves, the pattern of brokenness repeats itself.
I used to be a much more openly political person; thinking that my public beliefs as a [Republican or Democrat] would help convince the [opposing political party] to join “the side that truly cares more about helping people.”
But I was wrong to think that way. I was too focused on thinking that if our government would change laws to suit [my political affiliation] at the time, it would force people to stop doing the things that my religion teaches against.
I realize now, the law doesn’t prevent people from hurting each other. Nor does it change a person’s heart.
At best, when a person breaks the law and is incarcerated, it just puts them in a temporary time-out (jail or prison), yet that person (in most cases) doesn’t actually become reformed and redeemed.
Without a true change of heart… without a person truly having the mindset to love other people as much of they do themselves, how can they break that pattern and lifestyle?
And on the flip side, while it’s always the individual’s choice to commit a crime or hurt another person in some way, I do consider how that person’s home life and environment could have led them to make that destructive decision.
Had that person been more loved by those around him, maybe (not definitely) there’s a good chance he would have never headed down the path he did.
Meanwhile, my version of reality has been much different…
I realize that being a middle class American as long as I’ve been alive has given me major advantages and privileges in life; ones that you will have as well. However, I understand those advantages and privileges come with great responsibility. I try to consider this concept:
If I become richer, other people in the world are probably becoming poorer. If I become better well-known, other people in the world are probably becoming more forgotten. If I have too much, it means other people in the world probably don’t have enough.
I am light years away from perfecting this “love your neighbor as yourself” concept in my life, but I have a feeling that if I’m mindfully teaching it to you, I can take a few steps in the right direction.
Since February 5, 2007, we have been together; that day was such a defining moment in my life.
That was seven years ago! We have been married five and a half years; and you’ve been around for the past 3 years and 2 months.
In this moment, as I step back and think about it, I am so not the same person I was seven years ago when Mommy and I went on our first date.
I may have been more optimistic back then, but I definitely was much less experienced in life- therefore, I was much more naïve, by default.
Not only have I changed, but so has Mommy. The two of us have become improved versions of ourselves throughout the character-building exercises of marriage and parenthood.
We are different people than we were on February 5, 2007. The challenging part is always making sure we continue to grow up together, not apart. That’s what real love is about; it doesn’t always come easy or automatic.
Real love has required me to be more sensitive to her needs and less sensitive to mine.
But I am confident that, had I taken that quiz seven, or even 5, or 3 years ago, I would have been a Raphael:
“Charming, charismatic, and very good with people… Unfortunately, you’re driven almost primarily by emotion, often to your detriment… It puts you on the defensive a lot.”
My goal these days is to be the calm-assertive leader; to not react so emotionally to emotional situations and to not take things personally… even if that’s how they were meant.
I am learning to be a stronger man. I am learning what empathy means.
If only I knew all this stuff back when I was only 26… man, I could have been so much better of a husband and dad from the beginning, had I only had this mindset since 2007.
But that’s not how it works. Instead, it’s that annoying learning curve of love.
What I am learning is that family is about growing together, which means learning the hard way together about how to become wiser, more improved, and more humbled versions of ourselves; and to earn a better understanding of what love really is:
Being more giving and sharing of myself and being less expecting of those things from others.
But I got addicted… and after that first time, I decided to officially change my format of writing about you, to where I write to you.
Exactly a year has passed since that night I sat at our coffee table and cried so hard, realizing my love for you.
Tonight, I’m less emotional in that sense. Instead, I’m feeling fully grounded in how I feel about you and how I understand my love for you.
Instead of a groundbreaking ephiphany, today I simply am grateful for the gift of peace of mind and heart; a gift the world can not give.
In this moment, that is my life. I think of that song, “On Top Of The World” by Imagine Dragons, to describe how I feel about you and me:
“I’m on top of the world, ‘ay
Waiting on this for a while now
Paying my dues to the dirt
I’ve been waiting to smile, ‘ay
Been holding it in for a while, ‘ay
Take you with me if I can
Been dreaming of this since a child
I’m on top of the world.”
I’m pretty sure we have the same basic struggles and weaknesses as most families out there; despite the religous affiliation.
It’s just as easy for me to crop out the rough spots for social media, as the next parent on Facebook could- and instead, post a geniunely positive photo for everyone to see, as if the cloudy and stormy days never happened.
A strong marriage and family provides a more stable support unit for the good, the bad, and the ugly that makes up what life is all about. To me, that is real love and real life.
I also mentioned in my letter the importance of being the kind of love we want to receive. I told how love isn’t easy; it’s hard work, a true investment- not simply a given.
While others could surely and easily disagree with my wording, that’s how I see it.
And now, as I write this today, there’s a related blog post that is going viral. It’s so viral, it’s currently impossible to look at my Facebook news feed without seeing at least a half a dozen people of sharing it in any given hour.
The author, Seth Adam Smith, is not a famous writer; at least, if he wasn’t a famous writer before, he’s probably becoming one now. He managed to publish a simple, yet revolutionary idea that is totally resonating with people I know.
In the post, he quotes his father’s words of wisdom:
“Marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children… Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.”
So perfectly said.
I think that like most people, I went into the article thinking it was going to explain that certain people just aren’t good at, or ready for, being married.
Instead, he totally surprised me with a fresh concept: Marriage isn’t for me.
This Seth Adam Smith guy is on to something. I’m going to be mindful of his (and his father’s) words for everyday of the rest of my life.