Being a military family means living a nomadic life. Because of the fact that I left home for the Navy just three weeks after high school, the nomadic lifestyle has been all I have known as an adult. The life of a nomad is one of great adventure. New experiences, new friends, and significant distances from family are constants. I have been stationed in amazing places over the years and this, my last tour in the Navy, is the only time I have been fortunate enough to live within reasonable driving distance of my parents. Admittedly, work demands and a healthy schedule of activities at home have prevented us from making the three-hour drive as often as we would like. But last week was one of those weeks where I simply felt the need to make the time and the drive.
I have often envied friends who have easy access to their parents and the ability to make them a regular part of their life. Grandparents in the stands at kids sporting events, impromptu visits just because, and the deepening of relationships that proximity and regular interaction enable aren’t as commonplace when physical distance is such a factor. On the flip side, the nomadic (immediate) family unit sure develops strong bonds because we are the only daily constants in each others’ lives.
Technology continues to find ways to address the tyranny of distance. And as grateful as I am for these magic rectangles we surround ourselves with and the amazing network that connects them, faces on a screen and the ability to hear distant voices as though they were in the same room can only go so far. Last week I needed more than a phone call, text, or video chat. I needed to ‘do nothing’ together. I wanted a shared experience in person. I desired unconstrained conversation. I welcomed the opportunity to nap on my parents’ couch while hearing their soothing voices over the smell of my mom’s cooking. I miss time with Mom and Dad and just sitting in the family room together was enough. Three days later I returned home rested, connected, and appreciative of the time we shared.
We all live busy lives and we all are well aware that time is finite. We can always find a reason to not do something. And, we don’t necessarily need a reason to actually do anything. Opportunities for family separated by distance to share time aren’t as plentiful as most of us would like, but we can only let distance get in our way so much. It’s not the quantity of time and it’s not necessarily the quality of time. As life goes on, it becomes increasingly more about simply sharing time together.
- When did you last share time with a distant loved one?
- How insurmountable was that distance?
- What excuses have you created to not do something you want to do?