Close your eyes. What did you see 10 years ago when dreamed about what you’d be doing today? What do you see right now when you open your eyes? Are you living that dream? With graduation season, lately I’ve been caught up in the nostalgia of thinking a lot about the past. The events of the past month have given me a chance to take stock of the life I lead, and I’ve been asking myself this question lately, is this my life?
Last week my cousin, a next generation Wakefield graduated from Clemson University. The week before that our family gathered in Atlanta to hear her speak. We’re all so proud of her and in so many ways she reminds me of myself 15 years ago, excited for the next stage of life to begin. I remember my graduation day so vividly, surrounded by best friends and family. It marked the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. While I was happy to walk across the stage and become an alumnus, I was more excited about what would happen two weeks later when I’d be marching down a different aisle. In both cases there was a bright, somewhat unknown future waiting for me. I knew what I was walking into, but I certainly couldn’t have known how wonderfully it would turn out.
This upcoming week, my youngest daughter Sloane will turn 1, so last weekend we took family pictures to commemorate her big day approaching. She’s been taking baby steps and we’ve actually caught her walking a few times before she sheepishly lowers to the ground. Something tells me that whenever we’re not looking she’s just casually walking around rooms with a smile on her face. Who knows what amazing things she’ll be doing a year from now.
Almost two weeks from now, my wife and I will celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary. We’ve made plans to get away and just enjoy time together for the weekend. I always tell people, when we got married we were simply two young kids in love. Now, 14 years later, we’ve literally grown up together and in many ways we are still two young kids in love, but now with realistic expectations of what it takes to actually stay in love. I like this phase better because it’s battle tested.
In the midst of all of this, we’ve been working on a project that required us to videotape almost every waking moment of our lives. At first I was hesitant to participate, but the more I got into it, the more I begin to see my life through the lens of an observer. Basically I learned that my life is a rinse and repeat of routine tasks like the daily routine of waking up, making breakfasts, packing lunches for the girls, getting folks out the house, then getting home, getting homework done, dinner time, bed time, weekend laundry, church, calendar meetings… In one of our interviews I remember using the phrase, “our household runs like a machine. It has to in order to keep things operating smoothly. My wife is the oil that minimizes the friction, and I’m the force that keeps it going.”
It was pretty interesting to see my life reduced to both soundbites and also the realization that most of our days are a collection of routines we’ve established to keep the ship moving. But in what direction? A pre-determined one. That’s the point. When I look at our habits as a family, there’s intentionality behind our orchestrated chaos. Family movie nights, calendar meetings, monthly goal setting conversations with the kids, and weekly goal reviews, family dinners, weekly church, small group, daddy drop off for school, all of these are intentional routines that lead to bigger goals. At first glance, I wondered if our lives seemed too boring for an outsider. I mean, we literally do most of the same things all the time, with the casual dance party and random trip sprinkled in here and there. But I figured, perhaps there’s something we have to offer that could help another family.
Even right now we’ve basically got our summer planned. We know what trips we’ll take and when, which camps the kids will attend and have a big goal (to build a tree house in the backyard). Like most of my plans, I’m sure I’ll look back on the end of the summer and while nothing will go according to plan, things will still turn out the way the need to be.
And that’s also the point. I’ve spent most of my life trying to plan it and learned the hard way that it doesn’t matter how life works out. It just matters that life works. So, yeah, this is my life and I love it for all the predictably unpredictable moving parts of it.