Today, while Katie had Emmie out at a photo shoot (I think we can all agree that Emmie has the face for it) Gareth and I stayed at home and played. The primary aspect of our play was a singular set of actions repeated for nearly an hour and a half. I would lay down on the floor and pretend to sleep. Gareth would run up to me and jump on me repeatedly until I would jump to all fours and chase him around the room. I would then tackle him, tickle him until he was hardly breathing, and then collapse on the floor and pretend to be asleep. This entire process from possumizing back to possumizing took only a minute or two such that at the end of our playing together we had gone through the routine roughly seventy-five times.
What surprised me about this experience was that not only did he never tire physically from the exertion, but that he never tired from the monotonous pattern. He was always in the moment. He was as surprised to find me jump up and chase him the last time as he was the first. He did not falter once when it was his turn to keep the pattern going by jumping on me. My eyes were closed, my body motionless, nothing I did reminded him of his part–he was completely engrossed. This leads me to wonder why it is that things that so excite me at the beginning–a new job or activity, a new friendship or business relationship, a new stage in my kids life or in my marriage–so quickly stop exciting me and become a burden. I have decided that there are two reasons this happens to me.
The first is that I don’t get excited about the right things. I get excited about things that are externally good for me. Things that other people do that automatically benefit me without my having to make a deep investment. I get excited about payoff not opportunity.
The second reason this happens is because I enjoy things as tasks to be completed instead of experiences to be lived.
For both of these reasons I am reminded of a passage in Ecclesiastes 3:
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—
“A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.
What profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils? I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves. He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor—it is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him. That which is has been already and that which will be has already been, for God seeks what has passed by…I have seen that nothing is better than that man should be happy in his activities, for that is his lot. For who will bring him to see what will occur after him?”
To put it in other words. Enjoy the experiences you have in life. One day you will be gone and nothing you have done will last or matter in eternity beyond that you rejoiced in the Lord and done good.