I love the questions my son comes up with. I also like asking him questions in response to questions. “Why is the chair squishy like that, dad?”
“Well, why do you think?” is a standard response he receives from me. And it’s not that I am trying to be difficult or as some would say an ass. I can actually see his brain thinking about what we are talking about. Even if he doesn’t come up with an answer, I feel it helps him be curious about the world.
God, I love that about him. Wide open and curious.
So I’m cleaning up the kitchen, and my four-year-old is waiting as patiently as he can to play when he randomly asks me, “In how many days am I going to die?”
There was no answering back with a question this time. My survival brain reacted quickly with a “very, very long time. Many, many, many days,” answer as I thought to myself NEVER.
He was satisfied, and responded with, “I’m still growing. I won’t die because I’m still growing.” Where does he come up with questions like this?
I look at this three foot tall boy who follows me and my heart swells with gratitude. I believe young children, and especially babies, are the closest thing to God that there is. Such words of wisdom coming from his lips and he doesn’t even realize it.
Even the world famous book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People says to begin with the end in mind. Now, I don’t really think my son was envisioning his grown up life when he asked this, but he didn’t seem to be anxious about death. And let’s face it, a four year old doesn’t have a grip on mortality. But maybe, just maybe he was thinking big picture.
I’m in my thirties and have only begun to feel the awareness that I will die some day. And you know what, it’s been one of the biggest motivators for me. To plan more, save more, put in more effort, let go more and enjoy just being here now.
Let’s face it. I’ve experience and done things where I should have in fact died. But I’m still here. God has kept me around for a reason, a reason I’ve yet to fully grasp. Just the idea that I should be dead, and that I will die some day, gives me the freedom to aim toward the most important things to me: relationships.
Being present when I am with my kids is the most priceless gift I can give them. And parents out there, you know that a plastic motorcycle, a toy doll or even an ice-cream cone, lights up the kids’ faces for a little while, but the joy quickly fades. (Often into a glucose-crashing tantrum.) It’s the moments spent to and from the ice cream or playing with the toy that are really valuable.
I hope I can continue to grow spiritually and mentally, so I can continue to exercise being present. After all, I won’t die if I continue to grow right?