Snow fell thick and fast, more snow than I had seen in England in my memory. Sheffield roads unrecognisable, muffled beneath soft swathes of white. Silence fell, with the absence of those engine roars, only footsteps and laughter gradually building once those heavy flakes stopped falling from the sky. We crunched up and down the road from our little attic flat, down to the park and skidded down a hill, somehow. Muffled up that hat from years before, red with a fluffy trim, ears warm and safe from the biting cold that comes with the icy flurries of winter. It seems like the other day. It was six years ago, longer than all of my children’s lifetimes. It seems like yesterday in so many ways.
*Gilmore Girls fans who haven’t watched to the end of the Year in the Life, slight spoilers (nothing major!) coming up!*
They appear, Colin, Finn, Robert and of course Logan to whisk Rory off in an evening reminiscent of their days at college together. Top hats, laughter, running down the street in slow motion (as you do) and harking back to the many hours they spent together and we shared with them in previous seasons.
Did they know, back in Yale, that that was it? Did they know that it wasn’t about what would happen when they graduated, it wasn’t about getting the degree and entering the real adult world- they already had that real life, right there. Did I know that? At university, with so many friends so nearby, all with such flexible schedules, did I know that was real life, good life right there and then? Was I too busy getting from day to day and to the next big deadline, milestone, season?
Those snowy few days during our university days were a lull, a pause from the reality of our daily routines and habits and a chance to stop and look, wonder at the changes around us. Familiar landscapes were transformed, albeit temporarily, and we saw them. Enjoyed them, interacted in a new way, we were present and joyful and right there, just for a bit. It’s no wonder that when things alter dramatically we sit up and wonder. But what about when nothing seemingly changes? When days merge together and life just keeps coming and you just wait for something. Will we sit and look around and notice where we are, see the beauty and fun and opportunities even now, even in the waiting, even in the unexpected, the unfamiliar, the daily and the mundane?
Are we so busy with our thoughts that we don’t notice our surroundings? The landscape of our daily lives, changing and shifting slowly often like the sands in the egg-timer, until one day those tiny grains have added up into a mountain of a season altered, life moved on.
I don’t want to be looking back, thinking about the times I lived ‘real life’, the ‘good old days’ or certain seasons and times, and forgetting the ones I’m still in.
This is real life, now, at school. Not yet an adult, not allowed to make all the decisions, struggling with the subjects you don’t like and longing for freedom. This is real life, peers around you all day long, catching the bus, revising and going through the motions that teachers dictate.
This is real life, stepping through university, meeting new people and exploring new places and wondering what the future will hold. This is real life now, even whilse you don’t know if you will have a graduate job, or what you want to be when you ‘grow up’, or how you can possibly make a difference. This is real life, with the conversations, the games, the laughter.
This is real life, disputing the best way to do the washing up, where things should be put or trying to keep up with mowing the lawn, as much as it was real life on your wedding day, surrounded by a sea of well-wishing smiling faces. This is real life, sharing life, doing life as a team.
This is real life, in a world swimming with toys and clothes and mealtimes, naptimes, playgroups, wondering how to make decision when you’re so tired. How to fit in and invest in real friendships amongst days filled with small people and trying to have actual conversations with your spouse. This is real life, with their wonder and imagination and pure excitement over the smallest things and that unconditional love for you even after they’ve pushed every boundary.
This is real life now, doing a job you never imagined, paying the bills and sorting through junk mail and working out whether to paint that wall. This is real life now, wondering if you will ever own a house, or if you should perhaps move house, or what the next project to tackle is. This is real life- working out how to bloom where you’re planted, to see the beauty in the unexpected.
This is real life now, these people you see each day, these blue skies and that crisp air. This is real life, with the water pouring into the cup, the sound as cars drive through puddles. This is real life, right in this moment. Whether hope has been deferred, whether the future looks murky or the past rosy- right here and now can be brilliant if you’ll just look up and notice it.
Circumstances may not be what you expected, but there is goodness here, there is life here and now. There is real life, abundant life, whoever you are, whatever you’re doing, however you come.
Don’t miss your life today looking for the next thing. Don’t miss your life remembering that time before when you didn’t realise how good it was.
These are the days. This is life. This is real, this is now. Look up.