I watched the series finale of “The Office” last night. Although I absolutely love the show, for some reason I didn’t watch it the last few seasons. Even so, I was compelled to see the very last episode. I was particularly struck by what Pam said toward the end. She said, “It took me so long to do so many important things.” She talked about how hard it was to accept that she spent so many years being less happy than she could’ve been. Among other regrets, she said, “Jim was five feet from my desk and it took me four years to get to him.” (Jim and Pam’s first kiss was, without a doubt, my all time favorite TV kiss.) She hoped someone would watch the Dunder Mifflin documentary and learn from her mistakes and think, “Be strong, trust yourself, love yourself, conquer your fears. Just go after what you want. And act fast because life just isn’t that long.”
This morning, I thought about Pam when Riley decided to wear a Batman costume to school. He did it for no good reason except that he wanted to. In any given 45-second block of time, Riley – like most four-year-olds – will aspire to do a dozen different (and often ridiculous) things. It’s astounding, actually. He wants, wants, wants, (and sometimes whines, whines, whines), but what’s important is that he does, does, does. He wanted to wear a Batman costume to school, so he did. If he wants to fill a grocery bag with cell phone chargers, crayons, a spatula, a snail, and bottle of water, he does. If he wants to watch “Lalaloopsy,” he does. If he wants to take off his pants, he does. If he wants to wear a party hat in the car, he does.
At the beautiful age of four, Riley is five feet from absolutely nothing. Watching him giggle and skip confidently through each day often reminds me of how different Dylan was at the same age. He was five twenty feet from just about everything. Oh, how I wish we could have a do-over so Dylan could experience the sensory delight of being four and fearless! Thankfully, at six, Dylan is only five feet away from a few things. In fact, yesterday he told me he wants to go on a roller coaster. A real roller coaster. I love seeing him enjoy life, and I’m grateful to witness him being strong, trusting himself, loving himself, conquering his fears, and going after what he wants.
Because life just isn’t that long. (Thanks, Pam.)
Sometimes, like in Dylan’s case, what’s five feet away from us is out of our control. Other times, though, being so close yet so far away from something is our own doing. What if my life were made into a documentary? What would my mistakes be? What am I five feet away from (besides a monstrous pile of mail)? Signing up for a writing workshop. Submitting an article to Babble.com. Going back to work. Keeping up with far away friends. Being fully present and in the moment with my kids. Knowing that what I do have is way more important than what I don’t. Realizing that this isn’t the hard part; rather it’s the best part.
What are you five feet away from?