It has been said the central human predicament is that we humans want life to have more meaning than it actually possesses. I am of two minds about this tragicomic worldview.
On the one hand, I worry about missing out on bucket list stuff. My friends and family are traveling everywhere, going to trendy restaurants and doing cool things. I sometimes feel like I need to do more of these things. I ain’t getting any younger. I do some of these things, but I fear the doors of experience are closing. The Great Wall of China, monarch viewing in Mexico, Alinea and shooting Colorado rapids are slipping away. Kind of sad.
But then I’m reminded that maybe life is best lived small. Two Fridays ago we were grandparenting Chris and Sarah’s kids in Glen Ellyn while they went on a two-night getaway. There was still a couple of inches of melting snow on the ground and we had talked about going outside to play. After 11-year-old Lily and 8-year-old Ava got home from school, they joined Cole, their 4-year-old brother for a snack. They were now ambivalent about going outside in the growing darkness and lowering temperatures, but eventually I said I was going out no matter what.
So after rummaging around for snow boots, hats and gloves, like Shackleton exploring the Antarctic, we staggered out into the backyard. I knew immediately this was going to be a great adventure when Ava and Cole, first thing, began making snow angels.
Lily made a snow kangaroo that she morphed into a snow rabbit. Ava made a tiny snow chair, and Cole made something that only a Druid would appreciate.
Then we put snow on the slide and collected data on whether diminished friction increases speed. It does. We got Cole airborne, and Papa landed hard on his butt to the amusement of all, other than Papa.
Next we shoveled off the neighbor’s trampoline and the kids played soccer and basketball and I served as announcer, coach and referee. Only two rules: no crying and no fighting.
By now we were tired, cold and hungry and Gigi said dinner would be ready shortly. We closed out with Ghost in the Graveyard. In the deepening darkness, it was easy to hide. It was kind of spooky. It took a while to find someone.
As I hid behind a big tree my mind wandered back to when I was a kid, then when I was a dad doing exactly the same thing I was doing now as a grandfather. It was a powerful moment for which I was grateful and appreciative.
So even if I never see the Pyramids or go to the Super Bowl, I will have had a wonderful, memorable time in the snow with my grandkids in Glen Ellyn, Illinois on a chilly November evening.
To be sure a small thing. But maybe that’s enough.