What Are You Missing?

“We all have different desires and needs, but if we don’t discover what we want from ourselves and what we stand for, we will live passively and unfulfilled” Bill Watterson

As a teacher, I often struggle with the students who don’t do their homework. For various reasons, assignments don’t get done. One day I asked my students what they were doing instead of their assignments. Some had legitimate excuses, while others said that they had no idea. Apparently time just escaped them. As adults, we don’t necessarily have assignments, but we do have goals and dreams that escape us as well. We spend our lives doing things that seem to matter at that moment, but do nothing to make us better people or help us find our life’s purpose. Think about how much time you spend surfing the Internet or watching TV. Could your time be better used? I like to call this the “What you were doing when you weren’t…” principle. Here is an example:

Some of my classes were required to read The Great Gatsby. Some read the whole book, some read part of the book, some read the CliffsNotes while others didn’t read any of the book. I can promise you this: In five years, if I were to ask my students what they were doing while they weren’t reading The Great Gatsby, they would have no idea. You won’t remember what you were doing when you weren’t doing what you were supposed to be doing. My point is this: They would remember reading The Great Gatsby, but they will not remember the time that was wasted looking at their favorite social networking page or going to Taco Bell for the third time that day.

We spend a great deal of our time missing out on the really memorable things in our lives. In five years, will you remember what you were doing when you did not sit down with your spouse who was struggling with a problem? Will you remember that TV show you watched instead of reading a book that could change your life? I can tell you when and where I was when I read life-changing books. I know the day and time I wrote my list of what I wanted from life. Will you remember what you did when you didn’t take your child to the park to play catch? My guess is that you will not remember any of the insignificant things, but in the end, you will remember what you missed out on. You won’t remember what you were doing when you weren’t doing what you were supposed to be doing.

At the beginning of this month, one of my visions was to do five special events with my family. As I sit here on August 19th, my family visited the Kohl Children’s Museum where my children were obsessed with learning about water pressure. My oldest son was finally tall enough to ride the big water slide at Rainbow Falls, I think he went 40 times. I took both of my children tubing on the back of their grandfathers boat. As a family we mini-golfed twice and each of my sons got to ride a pony. Finally, I ran myself into the ground around teaching my oldest son how to ride a two wheel bike. As I reflect on the past twenty days, I know that I missed a lot on Facebook, have no idea about the MLB Wild Card Race, and I have watched a lot less TV. But the special events in my life were far greater than any of the three aforementioned “non-events.” With twelve days left in the month, I know I have been doing what I was supposed to be doing and can’t wait to do more of it.

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