The magic carpet continues following you as you go to school, come home and devour snacks and plunge yourself in front of the TV and answer “How was school today?” with a truly original response “Okay.”
Welcome To High School
We see you making friends, getting scared to stand up in front of the class and read out loud, but doing it anyway, and blushing a lot. The magic carpet moves further along and we can see you graduating from middle school and starting your first year of high school and we can see the anxious expression on your face as well as how quickly that was replaced with a pleasant surprise when you discovered you enjoyed the history class and how good you are at remembering the wars, conflicts and revolutions.
Ah, holy smokes, we’re almost caught up to today. Hey, wave! That’s you down there, directly below the two of us on our carpet. This is a true out-of-body experience: looking at yourself looking at yourself. Anyway, see you later, we’re going to keep going and follow you into your future. Magic carpets are awesome, aren’t they?
It’s really getting interesting as we look down at future you. Wow, that’s impressive. Are you looking? Where’d you learn to do that? Dang, you’re really good. Obviously a master of… Shoot, just lost sight of you as some clouds drifted by. Darn it. Well, in the meantime things are pretty nice here on the carpet. Can I get you a snack while we wait for the clouds to clear?
It’s Your Birthday
Wait. A. Minute. Look ahead. Yeah, the clouds are lifting just a little further on. Let’s see how much further into the future we are. Ah, no shade but you definitely are a bit older, like probably eighty, or more. Maybe ninety, although you actually look pretty good for your age. I’d say you look not a day over sixty-five. But, no, that’s your ninetieth birthday you are celebrating. See all the people at your party? Family. Friends. Kids, gobs of kids running around.
Well, check you out. You’re standing up at the dinner table and giving a speech. Let’s drop down closer and hear what you have to say.
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears…. Naw, that’s not how you talk. Here you go. This is truly one of the happiest days of my life, and that’s saying a lot because there have been many happy days over the past ninety years. But to have all my family, my former colleagues, my friends, my precious grandchildren and a couple of my great-grandchildren all here at once is a high point for me. To say I’m feeling grateful for my good fortune would be a terrible understatement. But I want to thank you for being a part of my life. I think of the career I had, the important work I was able to do, the amazing people I got to work with, the great contributions we made in our field. I think of the friends who were there for me at important junctures in my life, supporting and celebrating our achievements, the adventures we’ve had together, the close calls with disaster that showed us just how much courage we have and how much we’ve got each other’s back. I think of the indescribable joy in raising a family with my lifelong partner, the countless moments of sheer ecstasy for simply being there with my family when it mattered. I have been the luckiest person I know and that’s saying a lot.
Pretty nice to be able to say all that, isn’t it? Sounds like you nailed the live-a-good-life thing. Oh, here comes a good friend, he wants to add something. We’re not quite done with the speeches. He’s speaking to you. You lived an exemplary life, he’s saying. Your life has stood for such simple and enduring values like honesty, fairness, respect for your fellow human, a principled stance where you were willing to sacrifice a great deal to do what was right rather than what was quick and easy.
He’s continuing. He’s saying you have so much to be proud of, not the least of which is an amazing loving family, respect throughout your community, a reputation for being that person who could solve intractable problems and was a joy to be around and work with.
Back To Earth
Okay, time to bring our magic carpet back to earth and the present moment. Sorry, it’s magic only lasts for a few minutes, but look at what we saw. How cool was that? We got a glimpse of you at the tail end of a truly amazing life. Sorry about the clouds that covered up the steps you took to get there. However, you got a glimpse of the early stages of your journey, the hard work, the mastery of a craft or skill, the growing responsibility. That’s an awesome thing to witness, to know that you’re not afraid of hard work and that there is a career, a profession, a calling with your name on it.
What Does All That Mean?
A healthy life includes a dream, a vision, a sense of direction, a place that by definition is better than today in some meaningful way. This better place doesn’t happen by default, or by leaving things up to someone else. We know that’s not a recipe for success or happiness. Happiness is something you pursue with pluck, hard work, persistence and a willingness to play by the rules. Even if it looks like you have the trappings of success they can be shallow and meaningless in the face of life’s challenges. To be healthy is to be able to handle those challenges, especially the ones that come unbidden and seem to target you unfairly.
We will return to this topic again and again, in the meantime, think about what this magic carpet ride showed you, or gave you permission to think about. Your future self standing tall in the midst of a reflection upon a long and meaningful life. What more could you want?
A healthy young person, there I go being awkward, has a dream. It’s not a luxury, it’s a calling and it deserves your attention. Write that dream. Reread what you wrote. Share that dream. Edit and tweak that dream. Put the dream away and pull it out in six months. Critique that dream. Challenge that dream and then clarify and simplify and honor that dream. It’s at the root of a healthy life balanced and flexible in the face of the unknown, important and a guidepost and one of the most positive expressions of you.
Buckle up. You’re in for an amazing life.