This morning, I was in a restaurant waiting to pick up food for a take out breakfast, to bring over to my parents house in celebration of Mothers Day. An eager waitress came up to me, not knowing I was already taken care of and waiting for take out, she asked the cosmic question, “What do you want?” I kidded around with her and asked if she could make me seventeen again.

I remember my one and only wish when I was that young. It was always for just one thing. There was no room in my mind for deep thoughts and the idea of being in the middle of life’s timeline was unimaginable. The hunt and peck of youth is so different than the release and remember of old. One weekend when I was a young boy, I participated in a youth group retreat, in an effort to fulfill mine and every boy’s fantasy; I got a cathartic life lesson instead. The boys and girls were put into teams to play a game and work together, to perform a variety of experiments to raise self-awareness.

We were put in groups of three. One of us was forced to wear a blindfold, temporarily losing the gift of sight, helpless and dependent but able to speak. The second of us wore a mask on the mouth, thereby losing the ability to speak, unable to ask for help but able to see. The third of us had their hands bound behind him, he could speak and see but unable to grasp, touch or feed himself. The three of us were forced to take care of each other, as together we were complete. I never forgot that event and I try not to take any of my gifts for granted.

Yesterday, my immediate family was close to complete, at a dual birthday party. Together a young niece celebrated with an elder grandmother. I had the camera on my eye all evening, so I watched a little harder than usual. I searched for the unseen and listened for the unspoken. I disappeared in the crowd of family, fluttering around the house like a spirit who had passed, grateful to be apart of life again.

I heard the dogs, though they could not speak. They asked me to let them out for a bio break. As I stood in the garage watching them play and squat out on the lawn, I looked over and noticed a shovel leaning against the fence. I wondered how long it had been there and who had used it for what. Whose hands were on the shovel and what were they digging? I thought it was a picture for a story untold.

I collected images all evening. I patiently waited for the moments when I could capture the most candid joy.

Eventually it came time for the birthday cake. A strange duality assembled side by side. The eagerness of youth, wanting for everything, with unlimited time stretched out before her. At her side was the wisdom of the ages in the eyes of a grandmother, wanting for nothing, grateful for all, with a lifetime of precious moments behind her. Together they celebrated their births and stepped forward into the future; both prepared to make new memories.

When it comes time to blow out your next candle, what will you wish for?

G'head. Say it.

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