“I’m not a parent. So I’m interested to know how you feel. For those of you who are parents, are you concerned about your child’s future? Are you concerned about what sort of world they will be living in? What we are leaving for them?”
This came up on my feed on Facebook in the wake of the Orlando shootings. Of course, I am concerned about my child’s future—but I would be in any place, and in any time. Bad things have always happened in our world. Our species is adolescent, and there is still the possibility that we could be stupid and exterminate ourselves. Or get exterminated, even without our input. Life is fragile and temporary. You can get a stack of all good cards, play them all right, live a good life, but death is still the denouement. You will still die.
When something unexpected happens, like a random death of someone we love, it is not just the loss of the person that makes it so heartfelt. It is compounded by the loss of the dream of a future than will now never come to pass. Disappointment is a bitter thing. Often we make sacrifices in the present so that we can reap the dream in the future. Letting go of that, that life has changed without our control, feels like a poor bargain. It feels like a con. And no one likes to be bested.
I hope, and pray, that my children will outlive me. It is every parent’s fear that they won’t. But because I don’t know the future, and cannot control it, I choose to enjoy the good in my life now. I choose to love my children without restraint, even if my heart is broken later. I choose to have pets, though I know they will die before me, because the daily joy of their existence is worth it. I choose to make happy memories of happy moments, because this is life. This is life’s longing for itself—in us, in our children, in our world.
There is always the choice to be fearful, to try to guard one’s heart against pain—but that is not humanity’s gift. Our ancestors had the same feelings—what is the future of my children? This world we live in, imperfect but with islands of light, is the future they worked so hard for. We are here because our predecessors worked hard to change their present. We are here because they worked hard to improve our future. It is frustrating how slow change can be, but there has still been progress. I don’t wish to live in any previous age. I am grateful to live in this one. I enjoy my life, I know love, and I understand that it can all disappear in moment. But so what? I will enjoy this moment. I will love all that I can and love every moment that I am to receive. If there is grief to come, I will deal with it when it actually happens, rather than try to deflect it by anticipating it—you cannot really protect yourself against loss.
Love your family, love your friends. Bad things may or may not happen. But in the meantime, enjoy what is—because right now, there is so much to love and so much light to give.