A few years ago my brother in law took an internship in San Francisco. It was a CRAZY move by all of us back here on the East Coast. Not because we didn’t think it was awesome, it was just something we were not capable of. It was also a realization from my mother in law and wife that once he goes he may never come back.
Well, my brother in law succeeded in his internship, came home, finished school and was offered a full time position in San Francisco because he is smart and extremely hard working. This was incredibly bittersweet for the wife and kids. Obviously my wife grew up with him, but he was also a very, very big part of my kids’ lives. He was IN their lives, always around for them, or making time for them. So when he left for good it was honestly tough on us all.
He would come home for a week here or there, or even a short weekend for an event. Each time, my mother in law and wife would get crazy the week before and the entire time if felt like they were just dreading when he had to get back on the plane.
For me it was never that sad, my family cried so many tears there was almost not enough left for me. Plus, I’m a guy, so we would hug, I’d wish him good luck, and then I would go home and help pick my kids and wife up from the ground from the sadness they felt. I knew what my brother in law was doing was following his dream. Making money, making friends, and having awesome experiences in a whole new place, what more could you hope for when it is someone you love. I knew we would visit, and that he would come home when he was needed.
But, each time he would come home and the family would get crazy stressed about thinking he was leaving again I got to thinking. Are we enjoying while he is here? Does it just make him sad to be home because he knows at the end of the time everyone will go back to Sadville, population all of us left back on the East Coast?
I don’t know where I heard it, but I just started thinking about how everyone is sad about the end of his time here that I just started asking the wife and kids if they are enjoying the middle. It became sort of a way for us to remember to enjoy the time we have here. I just kept saying it, Enjoy the Middle. Just meaning to enjoy what life has in front of you right now. He’s home RIGHT now, enjoy this time together. The end of the story is coming, but for now, let’s pause that part and just be here.
As time has gone on we have gained a ton from his experience. The kids got a new Aunt. A stylish, sophisticated young woman who it felt like from the moment we met her that she was always a part of the family. The kids love the life they created, and we now have an excuse to travel to the West Coast. The kids value their time with them, and they eat up every second they get. It also has taught them to go for their dreams. It’s something the wife and I can say, and something we would support, but it is now something they have SEEN with their own eyes.
Lessons are learned from hardships all too often. It is important we learn from people and study the people who take risks and succeed. We stress about the end, we stress about the beginning, but do we appreciate the middle. Do we appreciate where we are RIGHT now? To me “enjoy the middle” is something I try to live by. The middle is right now, it’s the small stuff, it’s putting down the phone that is recording whatever your kid is doing and just watching. Taking an experience for what it is. Pictures and recordings are great, but what do you remember in your soul about the experience? Did it change you, make you better, or just make you feel something?
My brother in law is the smartest kid I ever met. Not because he can answer jeopardy questions, because he still can’t do that, but because he saw an opportunity and followed it. Not knowing where he would end up, but not scared of that either. He has taught my kids a real life lesson. A real life lesson, way more important than the messages they may see from me writing on a keyboard.
Living in each moment is important. Don’t just wait for the end. We all only get one of these lives and I want to live it with a smile on my face. There’s a beginning, middle and end to everyone’s story. I’m just trying to make the middle as long as possible. Write your own story and surround yourselves with people who make the middle worth it.