One of the books I hope to write in the next couple years will be a nonfiction account of my attempt to try things that I was once did in my youth but have not done for a very long time.
The book will center on the idea that so often in life, we do something important to us for the last time, yet we often don’t know or bother to notice that it’s the last time.
We don’t take the time or have the awareness to savor that final moment.
If you’re a parent, for example, you spend years picking up your children. Carrying them everywhere. Lifting them to hug and kiss them. Tossing them into the car. Then they get taller and heavier, and at some point, you pick them up for the very last time.
Can you imagine?
Happily, I have not reached that point with either of my kids yet, but that day will come.
Will I recognize that this is the last time I will pick up my daughter like a little girl?
Probably not. Except that every time I pick up Clara now, I savor the moment, knowing that she’s ten years-old and might stop asking to be picked up sooner than later. So maybe. I might get lucky and recognize that final lift for what it is. Maybe.
My book will be filled with slightly more exciting moments than picking up my kids. For example, for two years I pole vaulted in high school, becoming good enough to win the championship of our very small region that contained very few pole vaulters.
Most schools did not actually have a pole vaulter or pole vaulting equipment at all.
Still, I was a vaulter, and I loved it. I was looking forward to my senior season when a car accident in December of that year nearly killed me and ended my pole vaulting career short. As I recovered from my injuries, I wasn’t able to compete, and that ended my career.
The nature of pole vaulting doesn’t allow it to be a backyard or weekend sport. When I went through that windshield two days before Christmas, my pole vaulting days were over.
But I wish I had the chance to vault again. To spend some time enjoying and recognizing and savoring those final moments in the pole vaulting pit.
That is what I want to do. I want to vault again. Join a high school pole vaulting team for a season. Try to clear opening height. Enjoy this thing that I loved so much one last time.
This is what my book would be about. The chronicling of one man’s attempt to recapture his youth. Do those things that he might not be able to do anymore at all in the coming years.
I have a list of these things - about 10 in all - that I would attempt. Some are easier than others, but all would make great stories, I think. It would be a chance for me to both look into the past as well as tell stories about what’s happening in the present.
This idea has been kicking around in my head for about a decade. Last week someone sent me this video. An 84 year-old Vermont woman competing in the pole vault.
I couldn’t believe it.
Maybe time isn’t running out on some of these things as quickly as I once thought. Maybe there’s still time to do more things than I ever imagined.
Maybe there’s still time to pick up your child one last time.