When I walk out of the airport arrivals lounge I typically head to pick up my suitcase and then find my place in the long line for a cab ride home. There is nothing better than that lurch at the back of your stomach when you walk out the security door and your subconscious recognizes a face. The face of your son, your daughter, your wife. Your subconscious knows immediately what is going on, but it takes your conscious mind a few seconds to catch up. At first there’s the “did I just see a familiar face” reaction, which is quickly followed by “gee that looks like my son”, to “wait, Alex is here?” and finally, “they came to get me! <<sniffle>>”. The joy of seeing your family when you’ve been away for any length is like no other.
But sometimes we forget that. When life is hectic and you’re rushing from task to task, we tend to put our attention on checking off the next item. Sometimes what is necessary in life is just stopping to love your family but when you’re on a mission to accomplish, stopping for any reason feels only like an obstacle in the way of your goal. While I’m not sure I go so far as to say To-do lists will kill you, like James Altucher, I do believe you need to focus on the truly important things first, and the to-do lists next. How many of us put “Listen to kid talk about Pokemon cards” on their to-do list? Or, “Give daughter hug”? This seems disingenuous; we think “I don’t need to put that on my list”, and we’d be right. The problem is that we often forget to do those things when we’re in the middle of getting things done.
I hate travelling, because it means I’m not here for the family. I hate the stress it puts on my wife, the kids, the dog, and frankly, me. But I also love it because every time I go away I realize how important those little things that sometimes seem like chores are really the most important things in the world. I realize how important my family is to me, and what my priorities need to be in life. I’m priviliedged enough to get to spend an inordinate amount of time with my family…far more than most working parents. And I guard that jealously. Sometime to the detriment of my income. But for me, the opportunity to take my daughter her raincoat because she forgot it can be far more important. To me, for whom love is acts of service, that is love.
I’m thrilled that I’m home now for a few months. I’m excited for summer holidays which will give me the chance to spend those months with my entire family. And while I know that the lists will creep in and that impatience will rear its ugly head, I hope for all our sakes I will remember that lurch of homecoming and how important my family is to me.