“Toilet Paper Never Runs Out”
I was in the supermarket with my uncle and aunt, Vince and Carol, and their two sons, Santino and Carlos. In my shopping bags were two large bottles of water and a large pack of toilet paper. That was it. Carlos asked me “Why are you buying toilet paper?”
“To wipe my butt. What else?”
“I know that! But why do you have to buy so much? Toilet paper never runs out!”
His dad looked at him and said, “Are you kidding? With all the butts at home, that pack won’t last us a month.”
Carlos surprised said, “Really??”
And his dad said, “Toilet paper doesn’t run out for you but it runs out for me because I take care of buying it.”
We laughed at the innocence of Carlos’ comments, “Toilet paper never runs out.” but it made me think driving home that night, about the men and women who are 2, 3, 4, and even 5 times Carlos’ age and still think “toilet paper” or the things they enjoy in life don’t run out simply because someone behind the scenes has made it possible for them to wipe their butt without thinking.
There’s a funny thing about us humans that always wants what we don’t have – or don’t have yet. We do not need to look beyond ourselves to see an example of this. Many of you may recognize similar thoughts as the ones I’m about to describe. When I was young boy, while at a local theme park, I wanted so badly to ride the roller coaster that I begged Joseph to come with me. Back then, Joseph wasn’t the daredevil that he is today. He actually didn’t want to ride it, but being the belligerent kid that I was (some would say still am), he went with me, only to find out when we got to the gate that I was well bellow the height requirement.
Side note: I was a very small kid and was pretty much at the front of the line for most of my elementary years.
I remember feeling so bad that I couldn’t go on the roller coaster and grumbling a bit but I could’t do anything about it. I remember asking my dad to talk to them to let me in, and he said that it was dangerous not to follow those things. I could fall off. “Even if I held on tight?”, I asked. “Yes.” he simply replied.
When I finally did get to ride roller coasters, I realized I didn’t like them that much. I like eating in theme parks, and the two didn’t mix too well. I’ll ride it once, but I’m not going again and again after a turkey leg, ice cream, pizza, and a hotdog. Of course this was long before I started watching my diet.
So too small to go on the roller coaster I wanted to ride so badly.
2nd example is when I kept wanting to learn how to drive. Some of my friends would learn to drive early, so I would ask my dad if I could learn too, he simply said, “Ask your mom.” which on hindsight was smart of him because he knew my mom would stick with the legal age without him having to be the bad guy. I would ask, “How come my classmate can drive already?” They would say something like, “Well you’re not your classmate.” or “Just wait until you’re old enough.”
And anyone who knows me will tell you I hate waiting.
All my asking and forcing the issue didn’t do me any good. I was too young to get a license, end of story.
Now that I actually do have a license, I actually don’t like driving in Manila traffic and prefer having Non, my driver, do the auto-combat while I work or catch-up on sleep.
Two stories that remind me of two things I wanted so bad before their time only to grow up and realize there was no need to rush. I would get to do them in time and find they weren’t as satisfying as I thought. Add to this list movies I wanted to watch but wasn’t allowed to yet, living on my own, having my own business, and a few others things I wanted to rush into, finally got, and woke up to the toughness of the reality of what these things really mean, and it’s this:
When you’re a grown-up, you have more access to things, but that’s only because you now bear the responsibility of not only affording them but also their consequences.
Being a grown-up means facing the realities of life, making decisions, and taking responsibility.
So don’t rush your kids to grow up but walk with them. They’ll get there in time. And kids, enjoy each stage. As has been said often, life isn’t a sprint. I personally wish I didn’t run too fast. But God allows things for a reason, and He never wastes anything.
Childlike & Childish
To be childlike means to be humble. To be childish means to be bratty – which is pride. Childlike means grateful. Childish means entitled. Childlike means eager to learn and grow. Childish means self-centered and simple-minded. When wise people suggest to learn from children, they’re suggesting childlikeness, not childishness.
And I think the epitome of childishness is selfishness. It is thinking the world revolves around me, my feelings, my time, my agenda, my wants, my needs, me, me, me.
Before leaving the supermarket I told Carlos, “Someday, your toilet paper will run out and you’ll have to buy your own or you won’t have anything to wipe your butt with. So enjoy your life now and be grateful.”
His older brother, a very insightful young man said, “Is that also why your parents’ fridge has so much food and you only have one egg?”
I told him I don’t that I don’t only have one egg, I now have two big bottles of water to keep him company.
We laughed at that too.
Good For You
Whenever I have conversations like this with people, it always ends up with the same question:
“Why be independent so young? Why not stay with your parents, enjoy their comforts, save, and when you’re really ready that’s when you go out on your own?”
Sounds like a practical question right. It’s very practical actually.
But life’s not about being practical. It’s not about having as much comfort as possible. It’s not about having no problems. It’s not about having huge savings (though this always always helps). It’s not about being free of cares or troubles. It’s not about being as secure as possible, though we all seem to chase this one a lot don’t we? I know I do.
Life is about living, and every day that we wake up breathing, life continues for us. Many times, in our desire to avoid the necessary sufferings of life, we end up in a period where we feel we’re waiting for our life to begin. It’s already begun. It’s happening around us, yet we miss it waiting for someone else to make it happen for us.
So be child-like, meaning be curious, be grateful, be awed, be free. But grow-up, meaning take responsibility, make it happen, decide, act, pay the price, step out.
If your steps lead you to untold riches and to the heights of power, good for you. If it leads you to the simple life that teaches you the pleasure of every small thing, good for you. If in your journey you find a partner, a family, and find yourself surrounded, good for you. If it is a lonely path up a mountain no one wants to climb but you, good for you. Whether you’re cheered or ignored, whether you’re rewarded or missed, whether you’re enjoying or suffering, good for you.
Good for you because you stepped out and walked your journey, that though it may not be the prescribed or advertised dream simple people so desire, you recognize its value, because you recognize it’s yours.