Delayed Gratification…

This past weekend life threw one of its many curve balls. . . Sickness, pain, suffering, were among everyone’s feelings this past week. It has caused me to ponder a bit.

In the Filipino culture we are taught at a very young age to pursue our studies to have a better life than our parents have. No matter how “well-off” we were when growing up, it’s not good enough they expect us to live better than that.

My parents have worked hard. I don’t think I grew up deprived of anything. I suppose one could make the argument that although materiality was readily accessible or able to be bought my parents never spoiled us by buying items we wanted just because they could. My parents made sacrifices for us and I have never felt the desire to take advantage of them.

I’m concerned. When have you actually reached “better” isn’t there always something “better”?

My parents have worked hard. Earning every vacation day they took whether in actual time off or dollars. As I sit here looking at their life, I would say they have reached the “American Dream” everyone hopes for. The “American Dream” right…? Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They have definitely pursued this happiness, they found it freely in Christ. They gained a few extra things along the way: each other, 3 children, a home, a car for each driver, healthcare ( I had to throw that out there, sorry)…

Since I think they’ve reached the “American Dream” I want to know…”Have they enjoyed it?”

Everyone talks about delayed gratification. Putting off pleasure and happiness now and trading it in for sweat, hard-work, and tears. So what is the time limit of delayed? For a child, it may be graduating from High School or college. For the college student, it’s graduating from college and getting that first job. For the young adult, it’s vesting in an IRA. Do you notice how the time stamps never end? There is always one more rung on the ladder to step up to.

When is one able to enjoy his accomplishments? For the Senior, it may be the summer before starting college. For the college graduate, it may be the summer before adult responsibilities kick in (or maybe 6 months after graduation when the student loan bills start marching in). That’s when it stops though, the time. Maybe I should say that’s when time snowballs. As soon as the first bill comes in, adult life snowballs: “How do I pay this bill when I’m still looking for a job?” The questions and concerns never end.

So tell me. When does one enjoy? Does it take a medical scare to jar us from our delayed gratification goals? Does it take a family member’s death to shake us to what is really important in life? Does it take a fire to burn down all our possessions to realize we never enjoyed our “props” in the house.

So I ask you today: leave the housework for tomorrow and spend time with your children. Take a break and pick up the phone and call your parents. Sit in front of the computer and Skype with your cousin. Drive 3 hours on Saturday to visit your aunt. Write the letter, the 2 page hand-written letter you said you were going to write ages ago.

If you die in your sleep, your housework will be done by someone else but one cannot hug your child for you. One cannot write the letter you said you were going to. One cannot be ‘you’ as hard as they try.

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3 thoughts on “Delayed Gratification…

  1. Brilliantly written. I really enjoyed this because it’s all so true. I myself, prefer to enjoy each new day that comes, appreciating what I have now and not worry so much about what I had or want to have in the future. Each day is a new beginning… 🙂

  2. I LOVE your post! After what I went through medically last year, I’ve been taking the extra time that I wouldn’t have before. I let the laundry pile up a bit, wait a little longer to dust and spend the extra time to play video games with the kids instead of doing things around the house. They seem like small things but it has made all the difference to me.

    There is ALWAYS something better and unfortunately I don’t think it will ever be enough.

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