A wise woman once told her son, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get”. While this statement is true, as far as it goes, I see life as being more like a fireworks display…a professional, balls out, full tilt boogie pyrotechnic display of magnificence and glory that creates, “Oooo” and “Ahhh!” moments at any given time.
Our birth is the first of many “Ooos” and “Ahhs”. Our infancy is nothing but a string of firecrackers going off, in a chain reaction that begins with our birth and first steps and ends when our mothers realize that, at the ripe old age of two, we can take apart a toaster armed with nothing more than a spoon and a butter knife. This discovery usually results in some fireworks going off on the parental side of the field, but no matter…it’s still an accomplishment that garners us a measure of awe and admiration that leads to imitation by our fellow two year olds.
Next, we enter the Roman Candle Period of childhood. From the first volley where we learn left from right and are able to tie our own shoes to the ability of solving the deep, dark mystery of learning to read, it’s one fireball after another. And the ultimate fireball of this period is when we first learn THE most important word in the English language: “LOOK”. In order to progress, we first have to not only look ahead, but look at the world around us…and not just look with our eyes, but observe with our minds and our hearts and take it all in. The next fireball to erupt from the Roman Candle is “learning our numbers”…learning that two apples plus two apples doesn’t just equal, “Some apples” but rather “FOUR apples” and that those are a fine start to an apple pie. To be sure there are other “firecracker moments” during this time…the first playground fight, being picked last for a game of baseball or whatever, getting in trouble from parents and/or teachers for “being a kid”. These are but quick snaps and soon we’re back to shooting fireballs…making the junior varsity baseball team or making your first cake that was actually edible.
Now we move into the “Mortar Moments”…you know…the fireworks that fly way up in the air and with a crash and a burst temporarily add more stars to the night sky. LOTS of “Oooo’s” and “Ahhs” followed by gasps of delight accompany these particular demonstrations. Our own personal “Mortar Blasts” start with the Big Day that we get our drivers license and continue with round after mortar round of first loves, first dates and first broken hearts that all lead up to the explosion of relief we feel when we walk across the stage at the end of our Senior Year and get the diploma we’ve worked so hard for for the past 12 years. However, the Mortar Moments aren’t over…at this point we can take our choice of several paths. The only concern is to not find and take the path that leads to a “dud”. Some of us take the path to college…others to the workforce…and others directly into marriage AND the workforce. No matter which of these paths you choose, you’re guaranteed of at least ONE good mortar round. And then, of course, the last and best of all mortar rounds…the Mack Daddy, Grand Slam of all mortar rounds…the birth of your first child. Now you not only have a wife to love and support but you have a “Mini-You” that needs your total and complete attention from the time it comes home until it reaches 18 and moves into your basement.
While this is going on, your life is going forward as well…and, like any good fireworks display, it’s begins to build to a crescendo. You and your wife are still together and as much in love as you ever were, but you tend to SAY “I love you” less than before…because you figure if your spouse has been with you THIS long, they KNOW you love them and you assume they love you back with equal intensity. If you’re a man, you “show” you love her…by getting her a new vacuum cleaner. She shows her love in return by giving you a nose and ear hair trimmer for your birthday.
By now we’re hitting the Grand Finale and fireworks are going off so rapidly you can’t keep track. As a person of 40, you begin to realize that 65 isn’t near as old as it seemed when you were 25. In fact, you feel pretty good! Almost as good as you did when you WERE 25…until you move to get out of bed. It’s then that you realize the last 40 years have not been exactly “kind and forgiving”. You also notice that time seems to move faster….more things to do and not enough time in the day to do them . After a while, you accept it and sit back and watch the show to its conclusion…and when you go out, you do it to the strains of The Star Spangled Banner and the explosions of more rockets, fireballs, fountains and sparklers than you can shake a stick at.
At the fireworks show, it doesn’t FEEL like 30 or 45 individual minutes have passed…but they have and the show is over for another year. And the same is true in the fireworks show of our lives. We wake up one day to discover that 70 or more years have passed and that we are about to make our final “Rally” before this show called life is over…and it’s up to us if we want to go out as a “dud”…or if we want our friends to gasp in wonder at how much good we did…how entertaining we made the “show” while we were here.
So, life isn’t just a box of chocolates. It’s a box of sparklers, streamers, rockets, mortars and firecrackers. And how we want to be remembered by others depends on how we use all those materials and in not letting the occasional “dud” get us down. Instead, look at the next item to be even more exciting and awe inspiring than the item that didn’t go off as planned. We’re only here for a short time…and we have to use the “ammunition” God gave us and use it wisely…because the best fireworks displays are the ones that end with the spectators wanting more!
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