How Do I Live Now?
Two hundred years from now, two little children are playing on the beach at the water’s edge. The sand sparkles white. The ocean rolls in with the sound of itself that makes everything else backbeat to its constant rhythm. The sky is pure in its blue, with wispy clouds that accent the depth of color. The brightness of the view causes the eyes to squint. A mother sits underneath an umbrella, beach bag and cooler nearby, peacefully watching her children bringing buckets of water to the moat of the sand castle. All the sounds of the beach surround them, a dog’s bark at the waves, music in the distance, echoed voices, and the umbrella awning occasionally flapping in the breeze.
Even in the midst of the mingling sounds, the children hear their mother’s voice when she calls their names. “Come in for just a while; come in,” she calls to them. They finish the last pour of the ocean from their buckets, and then one delays a bit, after the other has already headed towards their mom.
She opens the cooler and offers them Sprites, the purple grapes that are so plump they pop when they are eaten, and crackers. She says, “Let me keep reading the book I started with you last night before bedtime while you eat.” One of them protests slightly about not wanting to sit as they pull grapes from the stems. They settle into their chairs anyway, and she reads. The mom glances up occasionally from the words and takes in the gratitude of the moment. She sees the sunlight shine on the legs that were wet and notices how the sand sparkles in the light. She watches one of the children taking in the words of the book as their eyes look to the horizon. Before long, she glances up to see that the child who didn’t want to sit has laid back in the chair and is almost asleep; she notes how the breeze has almost dried their hair.
The mom keeps reading even when the child sleeps because she likes the book they like, and she likes the moment they have, and the place and time. They all live for a while in the pleasant. The mother lets herself love them. The children know that they are safe, and belong and matter, and are “seen.” The children don’t even yet know that life is a great struggle, full of joy and sadness, tumult and togetherness. They can take love for granted this day, because it is solid in their lives. They don’t know its difference. She knows love is a gift, having received it herself. She offers it now imperfectly and yet fully. And her children receive it as normal.
Two hundred years from now, none of us are here. In fact, most, if not all, of whatever we built will long be gone. If recognized anywhere, our names are nothing but footnotes of the distant past, perhaps written in an old Bible, or they come up in some genealogical research. While we will all be forgotten in 200 years, if we live well now, that is, live beyond our own egos, our own aspirations, then the inspiration to love far beyond ourselves can make the story above very true. Far, far beyond our own lives. Other generations who will never know us can have lives of love because we ourselves were inspired to live fully, love deeply, and lead well lives that leave gifts of the heart. Gifts that can be inherited for generations to come.