How to See What’s Right in Front of You

Blog / Produced by The High Calling

I have a friend who is 13 years older than me. When his daughter Jenny was in college, my daughters were young children. One day I asked him what he would give to have Jenny as a five-year-old again for one day. Just so she could throw herself into his arms, call him Daddy, and sit on his lap.

He closed his eyes and sighed. “You can’t know what that is worth, Gordon, until it’s gone.”

On hearing this, I began to see my life in a new way. At the time, little girls were sitting on my lap every day. Sometimes they would even fight over who got to sit in daddy’s lap. And there were evenings, I’m sorry to say, when I turned down requests to sit on my lap so that I could read a book or watch something on television. Suddenly I felt like a man who was living on a planet where diamonds are as common as sand. I was sweeping diamonds off my porch and complaining about the mess.

From that time forward, I have tried to look at my life as if I was 20 years older than I am. This is something I would suggest for any parent. Try imagining your life as if you were looking back at it from the future.

I promise you this little exercise will radically change your priorities.

I’m writing these words from Creede, Colorado, where my family has gone for vacations many summers over the last 25 years. The first time we brought the three sisters to Creede, there were only two of them. One 4 and the other not quite 1.

I remember the summer they were 2, 6, and 10. And the summer they were 6, 10, and 14. Two years ago they were 12, 16, and 20.

This year they are 14, 18, and 22. All five of us are together again in the same cabin we’ve stayed in since they were just learning to walk. I don’t have to look 20 years into the future to see the end of this story. My oldest has a couple of years left in college. After that she may have a job with limited vacation time and a family of her own.

What I’m saying is there may not be many more summers in Creede with all five of us together. I know that one day Jeanene and I will look back at these days with great joy and longing. This present moment with my family is the most precious treasure I have. I am living in a land strewn with diamonds. And I’m determined not to miss out on their beauty just because there are so many of them.

Everyone has hindsight. Everyone can see what they once had and have lost. A few rare souls with the gift of foresight can see what is coming in the future.

But the greatest gift is the ability to see what is right in front of you.

Image by Joanna Sweeny. Used with permission via Flickr. Post by Gordon Atkinson.