What if everything came stamped with an expiration date?
When we were kids, we were given end-times to everything. We knew what time school let out. When summer ended. We were told what time we were leaving Disneyland, and we knew when we would graduate. Did that make us cherish our friends more? Study harder? Enjoy every minute of summer? Pay attention to the fun we were having? For me, the answer is no. I took everything for granted. I would never have use for what was taught in school. Summer would never end. I wouldn’t REALLY have to leave Disneyland. And friendships would last forever.
As adults, we know when weekends are over. We realize that vacations end. And we are painfully aware that people die. Does that make us appreciate our time and our family more? Perhaps. The older we get and the more crap that has happened to us plays a part as to what degree.
But how about relationships? What if the person we love the most on the planet came with a “Best If Loved By’ stamp on their forehead? For starters, we would suggest they wear bangs. Or a hat. But beyond that… Would we ever quarrel? Would we allow ourselves even once to go to bed angry? Would we spend more time paying attention to all of the little things? Even after “the honeymoon ends”? If we knew that a relationship was only going to last a year, would we cherish each moment more?
We all hope… no, I think we all assume… love will last forever. But sometimes, for a million different reasons, it doesn’t.
There is a beautiful swimming pool behind my office at work. At the beginning of every hot Texas summer for the past 8 or so years, a group of boys from the surrounding neighborhood try to sneak in. The pool is reserved for residents only, so they know they are not supposed to be there. They usually figure out a way to get in, and I receive a call from residents letting me know. I have to go out there and chase them off… reminding them they are trespassing. They are always respectful, and they always leave right away. But sometimes they come back when the pool is empty, and come in to my office to plead their case. Almost always, my answer is no. Almost always. But every now and then, when the temperature has crept so far above 100 that it doesn’t even matter what the thermometer reads… my answer is yes. I tell them they have 20 minutes, and that if any residents show up, they have to leave immediately. The looks on their faces always make me want to say yes more often. What happens next always hits me in the feels. No sunscreen. No bathing suits. They kick off their shoes and peel off their shirts and jump in (imagine the scene from “Caddyshack” when the caddies had 15 minutes to enjoy the pool). They grab noodles and begin bopping each other over the head. They are in and out of the pool doing cannonballs and displacing so much water it looks as if it’s rained on the deck. Smiles for miles and laughter that echoes off the buildings. They don’t waste a single one of the 1,200 seconds in that pool. Their fun came with a “Best If Enjoyed By” stamp. And they took full advantage.
Even though their pool time came to an end, I can see them smiling and laughing on their walk home. They aren’t sad or angry it’s over. They are happy in the memory of each moment.
Not all friendships, romances, love affairs and marriages will last forever. But they began for a reason, and they were wonderful for awhile. Can you imagine how you would spend your time if you only had 20 minutes? Even though you knew it would end… and it does end… you would have no regrets. Every second spent focusing on the happy and the fun and the love. What if every quarrel included laughter and bopping each other over the head with foam noodles?
Go find the one you love. Brush the bangs back from their forehead and imagine what that date is. Then get your love on.