My eldest son, now eight, was a little quiet on the way to brunch yesterday, so I asked him what he was thinking about. He replied simply “forever” while continuing to gaze out the car window.
I asked him what he meant a couple of minutes later and he turned to me and asked “Daddy, why whenever I try to understand ‘forever’ I never get there?” “To the end of forever?,” I asked. “No”, he said, “to the beginning.”
Not one to answer such a serious question flippantly, I took a moment to formulate an answer. Luckily, forever came and went and he moved in to another thought which crossed his mind as we approached the next intersection.
“Daddy, why is it that of all the things on earth that have gotten better over time, only man’s behavior and his music have gotten worse over the last five hundred years?” Now there was a question I could sink my teeth into!
At risk of offending the growing minions of cyber bullies, millions of fans of Justin Bieber and a few thousand devotees of Creed, I was inclined to agree with his assessment. We do seem to be acting worse and compared to composers of the Renaissance, our music pales by comparison!
We discussed a few points but the one which stood out to me the most was the fact that mankind has been quick to embrace outer changes, but slow or even unwilling to adjust his inner orientation. Scientific breakthroughs, as amazing as they are, cannot change the heart of a man.
A man must want to change and must do the work to effect it. The good news is that everything is constantly in flux, so a man must work harder to resist change than he does to be lifted up by it.
As we pulled up to the valet my thoughts returned to forever. I remembered a quote from Emily Dickinson and shared it as we walked into the restaurant: “Forever is composed of nows.” My son liked the notion and we agreed that the most important thing in life was to handle our “nows” as wisely, genuinely, thankfully and passionately as possible.
The most important point of forever is now.