I've always had a soft spot for old folks. They posses a certain wisdom that can only come from a lifetime of experiences. Even though we may not yet be as wise, we can learn so much from them if we are willing to listen. One piece of advice they always seem to share is not to put things off, because the years go by faster and faster, the older we get. Think about it—on our first birthday, a year of time represents 100% of our experiences. But if we live to be 100, it only represents 1% of our life experiences. So, even though it isn't strictly true that time goes faster the older we get, it sure seems to.
As time passes, windows of opportunity present themselves. It is up to us to seize those opportunities and make the most of them. If our ship comes in and we don't jump on, it may not enter our harbor again for decades. Sometimes the opportunity won't remain available, and other times, they are available, but we are in a stage of our lives where we can't take advantage of them. Take something as simple as traveling with your parents as an example. We all remember a trip we took as a child with our parents. Most of the time, they are fond memories. But as we age, it becomes more difficult to find the time to travel. That is because of the phases that we go through in life.
These four phases, infant, teen, adult, and senior, are something that everyone who is blessed with longevity has to go through. For travel, they can mean entirely different things.
As infants, we have no responsibility, and all the free time in the world. The problem is, we have no ability to travel without the help of our parents. One look at where our parents are in the above breakdown shows that they are likely too busy with work to spend much time traveling during this phase of our life.
As we reach our teen years, our parents have usually worked their way higher up the career ladder, and can now both afford and have the time for more travel. The problem is, we are then too busy being teens, and might not want to spend that much time with our parents.
Next, it’s our turn to work. In the beginning, it can take a lot of effort to make things happen, and we don’t have a lot of free time. While we focus on our careers, our parents are usually finishing up with theirs, and now it is our children who have the free time to travel.
Usually, our parents are entering their retirement when we are still early in our careers, and we probably don’t have a lot of time to travel with them. Later in our careers we may have the time, but then our parents aren’t so young, and health problems often make travel difficult.
As we advance in our careers, we may find the time for travel, and our parents might still be young enough to travel with us. This is the window of opportunity that I find myself currently in. Until now, it has been almost impossible to enjoy vacations with my parents. One of us was always too busy with other commitments.
But now my parents are retired, and I have been in production mode for thirty years. Both of us can afford to take a little time off and enjoy exploring new places together. When my parents first retired, they bought an inexpensive fiberglass Class A motorhome. They were driving down the freeway when my mom heard a strange ripping noise overhead. She looked up to see the wind literally peeling the roof off! Needless to say, their experience with RV'ing leaves a lot to be desired, and I wanted to change that. Since we had the time to take a trip together, I thought it would be a great opportunity to take them RV'ing in a stress-free environment. With my wife and I to take care of the details, they could sit back and enjoy the ride.
So this week, I am typing this letter from the table of a motorhome, on the shore of Lake Michigan, where we are slowly working our way south. We don't have a firm destination in mind, just meandering, which is one of my preferred ways to travel. Where we end up doesn't matter much, really. The important part, is that we get to enjoy each other's company. Because life is short, and time with our parents is dear.
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