Dear Adult, JTLYK about Time

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There was once a time in our lives before we had met Bruno. When we did meet him, it was only for a few short minutes. Those few minutes would be the only time we would spend with him and it is almost certain that we will never see him again. Yet Bruno has made a huge impact on my family and we will forever be grateful for our short encounter with him.

What started as an ordinary evening, winding down after a busy day of exploring our new neighbourhood and sea side village, turned into an evening of wondering about a life and a time, long ago. As we were relaxing on the couch, there was a knock on the door. I opened the door to discover a neatly dressed, older man in his late seventies. His face was bright, eyes wide open with joy and excitement. The man looked at me and was rather surprised, caught off guard. He managed to say, hello, my name is Bruno, who are you? Where is ………. ? It occurred to me that he was referring to the previous owner of this old sea side cottage that we now call home.

The excitement on his face started to clearly fade and his expression changed to that of curiosity, maybe even worry about what had happened to the previous owner. He told me that his friend used to live in the house. They had grown up together as young boys in this little fishing village. His friend had moved to the city for work but he always came back every summer for the past 60 years. The man at our door had noticed that the shutters were open so he assumed that just like every other year, his friend was back for the summer.

We talked a little more and then he apologised for troubling us. With tears in his eyes and less excitement than when he arrived, he left. Just like that. He would never return to this house or drink another coffee or summer beer with his good old friend.

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I returned to the couch, my son was still sitting in the same place with absolutely no idea about what had just happened. Who was at the door mum? he asked. I told him about Bruno. I thought that my son would be satisfied with my explanation about an old man looking for his friend who used to live in this house, but he wasn’t.

Why couldn’t Bruno just call him on his mobile mum? How old was this Bruno guy anyway? Can he drive a car? Do you think he can still swim? Can he walk up that steep hill because it’s even hard for you and Bruno is twice your age. What did they play together when they were kids? Did he speak German, English or just Croatian? Were they born when the Italians were in charge of this place? I wonder if they ate spaghetti. Maybe they did when the Italians were in charge. Anyway mum, where is his friend?

And then it sank in, that feeling, that deep knowing that we all have but avoid by staying busy and distracted.

Life is a journey that doesn’t go on forever.

I was certain that Bruno would have spent his evening thinking about where all the years went. Wondering if not regretting that maybe he didn’t do all the things he thought he would.

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Dear Adult, JTLYK about Time,

I’m 8.

My mum said Bruno was maybe 78 or 79 so I just made him the age closest to the next 10 which is 80.

I know that 8 x 10 = 80

Bruno has been alive for 8 years 10 times. I have been alive for 8 years once. That means I need 9 more lots of 8 years to be the same as Bruno.

I know that 8 x 9 = 72

I also know that 80 – 8 = 72

Bruno is 72 years older than me.

In my first 8 years, I learned to crawl, walk, eat, drink, talk, play, read, write, add, subtract, use technology, be a good friend, pack my school bag, make my school lunch, make breakfast, tie my shoe laces, make my bed, avoid vegetables, draw pictures, build towers, tell funny jokes, swim, dance, sing, make things, ski, kick a ball, catch a ball, bounce on a trampoline, make jelly, lock a door, un-lock a door, fold a towel, brush my teeth, use Netflix, count money, cross a road, climb trees and so many other things.

I wonder what else I can do by the time I’m as old as Bruno?

Please let me.

YW

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Dear Adult JTLYK about Comparing

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My family and I are in a little fishing village on the Istrian Peninsula in Croatia at the moment. We walked past a row of fig trees in between the ruins of forgotten stone houses and I couldn’t help but think that in Melbourne, the fruit of these trees would probably have a net worth greater than the current balance of my retirement fund.  As I stood there admiring the fig trees I noticed a little granny who I assumed owned this bit of land. My first thought was, what a lucky lady, she gets to eat all these organic figs, she actually knows where they came from and who touched them and she’s not even paying $50kg for them. As I walked off I had another thought. Maybe the little granny was looking at me in my neat clothes and also thinking, lucky lady, she’s had an easy life, working in an office, a clean, non-strenuous job. By assuming so much about the village life and those fig trees, I was actually feeling like I had missed something, like something was lacking in my life because I didn’t own 10 gigantic fig trees. Up until that moment, I was unaware that I even wanted 10 fig trees. Had I forgotten how to simply admire something without wanting it for myself?

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In the same village, I spotted a group of five unsupervised children led by a three year old on a battered balance bike. The children were talking amongst themselves and I could work out that they were planning an expedition in search of wild asparagus. I was there with my son and as I looked at him I realised that he was wearing three items specifically designed for safety even though he wasn’t going anywhere particularly dangerous. In fact, he was on a supervised expedition with his mother in search of a safe place to play with his soccer ball. I looked back at the group of children then at my son and sighed. I can give him so much but I cannot give him an unsupervised expedition into the forest in search of wild asparagus. The children in the village, looked over at my son. They could tell that he wasn’t a local. They probably thought that he had come from a better place than there’s because he had greater material worth, yet they were totally unaware of their own fortune. All the money in the world cannot buy you an unsupervised expedition into the forest with your friends, especially when you’re 3!

As long as we look out and see what they have and we don’t, we will never find true happiness, gratitude and joy. Without even realising, comparison by comparison we have filled our minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years and in essence our whole lives with discontent and a deeper connection with lack and want instead of gratitude.

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Oh Mr Roosevelt, you had no idea back then that joy would be replaced with an obsession for things, approval from others, likes, haters and followers. Joy went out of fashion a long time ago.  Comparison and it’s close friend judgement are indeed the thieves of joy and life!

When we compare ourselves to others, our relationships to other relationships, our clothes, our homes, our bodies and everything else, we miss the whole point of knowing who we are, what we have and making the most of it. Sometimes it takes a new perspective to see the true value of things. We often think that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. No, my son cannot go on an expedition into the woods with his friends and I don’t have access to 500kg of organic figs, but we have other things to be grateful for.

Don’t get me wrong, not all comparison is bad. If we can see, experience, compare and learn from each other without connecting to a feeling of lack then this is healthy and allows us to grow. But this kind of comparison can only reside in a person who is experiencing life authentically. A person who is at peace and in sync with themselves and the life they are creating. Seeing the group of children planning their expedition into the forest made me think that perhaps a helmet, elbow pads and knee pads was a bit too much for my son.

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Dear Adult, JTLYK about comparing,

Dealing with comparison is hard when we are growing up and learning so many new things every day. We need to make lots of mistakes while we are young. We need to learn who we are, how we feel, what we like, what we dislike, what we are good at, what we need to improve, how to be happy and proud of who we are. We need to learn from young that everyone has a place in this world. Your time was different to now. This is a time of creating like never before. Every one of has something to give, to do, to be and experience. Stop worrying about us and stop fussing about all the little details of what you think we need. Love, nurture, support and believe in us so that we can learn to believe in ourselves.

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Comparing us all the time to other children isn’t helpful. It places too much attention on good, bad, better, the best, the worst, the fastest, the slowest. Save your comparing for when you’re choosing your next car or internet provider. We are human and comparing us all the time hurts. What if the adults were being compared the same way as us. Imagine, every adult in the world had to bake a cake and then receive a grading for the cake. What if they were told that if they didn’t receive a high grade for the cake then they wouldn’t succeed in life? When you set a list of conditions as a way of measuring success, not everyone can be successful.

After all that measuring and comparing, you tell us to love and be proud of who we are. You tell us not to compare ourselves to others and yet that is all we know.  Is it just another adult created, artificial platform of what you call life? As if we cannot see right through your well-intended words of wisdom and feel their lack of authenticity. Please give us more credit than that.

Imagine a world of happy, confident, flexible, life-long learners with an open heart and compassion for all living things. This is the future we want to create. So please, please, please, stop making us remember things so that we can complete tests for you to compare us. Teach us useful skills so that we can create!!!!

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When I feel good, I do good. When I do good, I see good in others. (dearadult.com)

YW