When my son was in third grade he was given an assignment to create a “Timeline of My Life.” He had to choose five important events from his young life to put on that timeline, the first of which had to be a picture of his birth, and the last a photo from that year, which was his ninth year.
I gather the purpose of this kind of assignment is to help children gain historical perspective, to show them history is not just a series of abstract events, but rather something that happens to real people; that each and every day we add an entry to the timeline of our own personal history.
When I look at that timeline I realize so much of what we live through is remembered in this way, as snapshots in time that make up our story, our history. So many events that seem “historic” in the rearview mirror of life were barely noteworthy while we were living them. The opposite holds true as well.
And as my son turns 20 years old this week, this timeline prompts so many reflections; so many snapshots like a slide show in my mind. There was much that was good, a lot that was hard, some that was sad. There are days when it feels we’ve already lived a lifetime. But, if we are truly fortunate, we’ve only filled the first chapters of this history book.
This story is a work in progress. Except now it is my son’s turn to fill in the blanks. His book started with me, but it ends with him. And I hope he knows stories are meant to be fluid, life doesn’t follow a set timeline, and history is not necessarily linear.
I hope he will be bold enough to pause often, to meander, to get lost, to explore different paths and invent new ones.
Most importantly, I hope the snapshots on the timeline of his life will tell the long story of an exquisite life well lived.
And I hope that I am truly blessed with the privilege of watching his story unfold.