Twenty eight years ago yesterday I met my mom and dad. It was just after midnight and the world was in the throes of the Seoul Olympics, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” had just hit theaters, and Ronald Reagan was wrapping up his second term as President. On September 17, 1988, Tammi Leader and Johnny Fuller were 29 and 36, respectively, and they were celebrating their first baby…their new family…a huge milestone.
I used to think life looked pretty different then. But yesterday, on a very-impulsive flight to Florida to surprise my best friends and celebrate their milestones with them on my birthday, I thought more about it and realized that, actually, life had not strayed very far from where it began.
Back then, there was nature and there were people; there was freedom, so there were choices; there were milestones and there were all the meaningful moments in between. Not much else.
Even in ‘88, my parents — probably because of lessons learned from their parents, passed down through the words and actions of their parents — really did get that. So from Day 0, they sent me on my way through life as though it’s one big hunt.
They told me I’d be journeying through an overall pretty straightforward tunnel that, for many, many reasons, would feel complicated, so it would be complicated (because our experience is how we feel about what is real). When things felt complicated, they told me, the tunnel could feel dark.
They told me that if I wanted to see…if I wanted to live in light…then I’d have to find a way to make my own, OR— better yet! AND — find people throughout the hunt to make light, together, with me.
They went on to support, equip and encourage me on every leg of my hunt.
“Don’t wait,” they said! Because there might not be anything to wait for; there might not be light at the end of the tunnel. There might, in fact, not even be an end of the tunnel at all.
If we had to make light now in order to have light now, AND the hunt may never end, then when (WHEN?) would we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor on the hunt?
NOW? With everything else that’s going on?!
They told me it was my job — our job — to enjoy the light while I — we — made it, while we found as many people as we could with whom to share it. NOW.
“That’s a lot of things to do at once,” I thought.
This all seemed crazy, but since I’m the oldest, and I’m a pretty good kid (obedient, at least), I listened to my parents and I stepped out in to the wild, wild world in search of the light….or an easy way to make some.
I came at the hunt with open arms and a small proverbial flashlight, fueled by the love that met me on this planet. I set out to keep the initial light alive and to collect more so I could forge on, path illuminated.
I did not know the “thing” I was hunting for, but I’d been told to keep an eye out for the best damn people to find it with. I knew to pay special attention to opportunities to affect and collect people who were present for the little moments that generated the most light.
They told me I would know I found one or some of those people when we created little moments that piled up to make everything really super bright at any given time. We would all know we were on to something major, because that much light would mean that, together, we’d made a milestone. We might look around and realize the light was big because we had lots of flashlights, and they were all fired up because light for one of us inspired light for the rest of us. Our sum was brighter than our disparate parts.
At those times (milestones), we’d probably want the hunt to stay feeling like that forever. We’d make sure it did by making more moments and letting them pile on top of one another, and enjoying the process by letting more good people hop in with their flashlights, building and growing and going at it all, again and again and again.
So, yesterday, on my 28th birthday, three days before I was to leave for our Weekend Retreat in the Poconos, I traveled to Florida (with all the light I had) to celebrate with my best friend Lisa and her best man, Seth, their engagement, alongside some of the brightest people I’ve met so far.
As you’re gleaning here, I reflected on where this hunt has taken me, and I didn’t even waste time wondering where exactly it would lead next, because I knew that, for me and these amazing people I have found, wherever we we going, this must be what it feels like to be on our way.
(As for Lisa, she must have known the day would get bright. She gave us all sunglasses for the occasion!)