Life is not a Countdown

For as long as I can remember, I have been counting down. Counting down until my high school graduation, so I could finally head to college and be happier. Counting down until my college graduation, so I could finally get a job and be happier. Counting down the days until my next raise, so I could finally have more money and be happier. Counting down until home ownership, so I could finally move out of my parents’ house and be happier. Counting down to my wedding, so I could finally stop dating and be happier.

I accomplished all of these things by the age of 23. I’ve been counting down the days of my life since roughly 5th grade. It started with summer vacations, and then it was getting my license, turning 18, and reaching the drinking age. After waiting not-so-patiently to be engaged, I jumped immediately into wedding planning. Our wedding was perfect, followed by the perfect honeymoon, but when we got home, we realized we didn’t have anything to count down.

At 23, I felt like the most natural next countdown item would be babies. Babies?! It makes sense, since everyone was asking, teasing, and, in some cases, hoping for a new baby. That’s when we finally said “hold it!” Neither of us were ready for the next logical step that the world expected of us, and we decided, after years of rushing to the next moment and the next milestone, that we would stop, relax, and enjoy.

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Of course, it wasn’t quite so simple. After years of wishing life away, it seemed so strange to be faced with the reality that there wasn’t a “next” to look forward to. But then, we realized that eliminating our countdowns and deadlines allowed us to be free to enjoy the day for exactly what it is—not a check mark on the calendar, and not another 24 hours closer to graduation/holidays/birthdays/weddings/etc.

I’m not suggesting that we won’t count down to the next big event in our life, but I’m promising that we’ll enjoy the days in between. While those moments were huge, and hugely important, they’re not the basis for a happy life or a happy marriage. Plus, who am I kidding? I can’t wait for our next big trip—but I certainly won’t be missing out on today.

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