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Thoughts for Thursday (08/26/2021)- Thoughts to Enjoy

This must be some sort of a minor miracle, because here we are with a new edition of my “Thoughts for Thursday” (or TfT as we now call it) for the second week in a row.

Now don’t get spoiled expecting this to happen all the time, but we can enjoy it while it lasts. And there you have it, the theme for my TfT today- “Enjoy it while it Lasts”.

I’ve mentioned a few times that when I sit down to write my TfT, I often have no idea what I’m going to discuss. The word “Thoughts’ is right in the title and like most thoughts, there is a bit of a rambling stream of consciousness to the process (ok, mine are certainly more rambling than most).

So, I begin with a witty greeting and comment or two and begin to search for anything that I can pretend will be the actual topic and point of this missive. Sometimes I fail to find one and just continue to type disjointed sentences (albeit humorous and insightful) that I hope no one notices are a failed attempt at filling enough space so that I can feel my job is done (like the last two paragraphs you just read).

But eventually, I bring the focus back to the topic and here we are. (Isn’t getting this insight into the inner working of the TfT posts just fascinating? No? Oh, well, you’ve come this far, might was well continue.)

“Enjoy it while it lasts”.

This expression is certainly not uncommon and I’m sure many of us have absent mindedly thrown it out to others or had it tossed our way without a lot of consideration to the deeper context.

A six-year-old, eating a good humor bar from the ice cream truck they raced to catch up to- “Enjoy it while it lasts!” your mom tells you.

Playing at the beach on the last day of your family vacation- “Enjoy it while it lasts!” your dad declares.

Stuck at home during an 18-month Pandemic that looks like it may be here for a while still- “Enjoy it while it lasts!”, I implore you.

Confused? Concerned? (Don’t worry, my medication hasn’t worn off- I’m fine). Let me explain

To begin to understand, we need to look at the origin of the expression, “Enjoy it while it lasts”.

No one is sure of the exact year, but one day, long ago, a dinosaur named Bert was lazily eating a plant with his best bud Stinky (Back then, Stinky was a proud name and didn’t come to mean what we now think of until much more recently).

So as Bert was chewing on the prehistoric fauna, he stopped long enough to admire the beauty of the day and of the moment and commented to Stinky, “Isn’t this the best?”.

“What do you mean?” grunted Stinky.

“Well, it’s a nice warm day, the ice age is long gone, there are no carnivores in the area, plenty of this delicious prehistoric fauna for us to eat (they called it “Prehistoric Fauna” back then too), and good friends to enjoy it with. What could be better?”, Bert declared.

Looking around to take in the experience, Stinky notes a bright light high up in the sky, growing slightly larger with each passing moment.

“I can’t argue with you Bert”, Stinky says. “it’s the best”. The bright light is now a tiny fireball growing even larger still.

“Enjoy it while it lasts”, Stinky remarks as he returns to munching the greenery with his best bud.

There you have it, the official source of the expression. What does this story tell us?

Well, as I see it, a few things that are noteworthy.

Certainly, the idea that in order to “Enjoy it while it lasts” means we are doing something that is by definition, enjoyable. (Fantastic insight Uncle Steve!)

Except what we are doing doesn’t need to be anything particularly noteworthy. Eating a salad with your friend on a sunny day might not stand out to many as a “moment” to pay much attention to. It certainly isn’t some grand event like a wedding or a child’s birth or the 25th Anniversary of Computer Greeks located at 12222 S. Harlem Ave in Palos Heights- open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 6pm.

We all pay special attention to those days, but what about the routine times that fill in the vast majority of life in between the major occasions? Those are often overlooked and quickly forgotten.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Breault.

Another thought I would note from the completely true and factual tale of our dinosaur duo, is that while we certainly know that the times we should enjoy will most likely come to end, that ending is not likely to be as obvious as the impending impact of a giant meteor.

Yes, while eating our Strawberry Shortcake ice cream treat (far and away the best choice) from the melodious white truck will certainly end, we know that another will be available tomorrow, or next summer. We will get to enjoy it again.

And the final day of summer vacation at the beach with our family has a limit before we must return home, but we know we will be back again next year, just like always.

Until we won’t.

“Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we’re still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it”. – Sommerset Maugham

I don’t remember the last time I talked to my dad before we knew he was sick.

I don’t remember the last visit with my mom before she was diagnosed with cancer either.

I certainly remember many of the “last” times I spent with them after we knew life had a time limit. The last time going to a restaurant, the last time watching a movie, and so many other little last things.

I don’t mean to be somber or depressing (too late, I know) and I have no doubt all of us have similar experiences. Once you live long enough, you have a journey that is filled with both the good and the bad memories that are indelibly etched in our minds.

Often, when those memories become branded in our brains comes completely by surprise. The ups and the downs alike.

And let me clarify for a second. I’m not trying to say enjoy the good times because something awful is coming and they will be gone soon.

Yes, that can happen, and I certainly hope all of us take the time to realize when the commonplace might not be so common, but don’t dread the ending or some impending doom. That will only make the chance to enjoy these moments even more difficult.

As a famous philosopher once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”- Ferris Bueller

That brings me to my final thought- I also want you to enjoy the bad times.

No, not because something even worse is around the corner, but because they have so much of life’s value to offer as well.

I can remember the losses and sadnessessess (is that right?) in my life at many ages with vivid detail just like I do the great joys.

A grandfather passing when I was five, our first dog not coming back from the vet when I was a child (Hi, Snowy!), the one my children will remember the same way (Hey, Chelsea!) as well as the three guinea pigs, two hamsters, and several cats along the way, and so much more.

My appendectomy, a broken collar bone, a couple of car accidents, lost baseball games, high school traumas, and many more than I can list.

All of them offered a chance to appreciate the lives and the experiences that helped to make me, me.

I hold the railing and count the stairs going into my basement because I once fell down a flight when I was young which allowed me to experience the aforementioned broken collarbone.

I haven’t eaten Chicken Cordon Bleu in 37 years because it was served at our Senior Banquet (Not a “Prom” because dancing was sex standing up? Still confused about that one.) in high school and afterwards, we went on a boat ride where I returned my meal to the sea.

I don’t tug on Superman’s cape, I don’t spit into the wind, I don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger and I don’t mess around with Slim. All because life, and Jim Croce told me not to.

I’m me because of the good stuff and bad stuff that fell on top of me over 55 years and all got mixed up and left me standing in this place at this time.

So, at the beginning of this, I told you to enjoy the Pandemic while it lasts.

I’ve said many times, I look forward to brighter days ahead without the stress, the conflict and the limitations and fear that we all currently are living in.

But at the same time, I hope we try to take that look around and realize we can still enjoy both the bad things that can teach and mold and create, as well as the good things that give us our hope and our joy and our laughs. The things we should hold onto as long as possible while we are in this place and this time.

So, here we all are- In this place and at this time.

Having wasted 10 minutes reading a barely comprehensible dissertation written by an idiot because somehow your life hasn’t yet taught you how to avoid them. Maybe this time you’ll learn.

In the meantime, Enjoy it while it Lasts.

Stay Safe and Stay Well, Uncle Steve

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