May 2006: Goldilocks

I’ve been thinking about the children’s story Goldilocks lately.  You remember Goldilocks, don’t you?  She got bored playing in the meadow so she ventured to the bear’s house in the forest.  She tried all of the porridge until she found a bowl that was not too hot or too cold but just right.  Then, she sat in all of the chairs until she found one that was just right.  Then tried out all of the beds until she found one that was just right…


The reason I’ve been thinking about that story is because many people have been telling me lately that Maddison, at eight months now, is in a “Goldilocks” period.  She’s not a fussy infant, but not a mobile toddler; she’s just right.  Ironically, these Goldilocks phases are rare in our lives.  Most of us spend our life either looking forward to what’s ahead or looking back to what we’ve lost, thinking that our current situation isn’t quite right.


Mary and I were talking about this subject with our great friend Emily several weeks ago.  She said something I hope to soon not forget.  She said, “We have to live life today.  If we’re always hoping for better things in the future, or trying to hang on to things in the past, we never give ourselves a chance to enjoy life here and now.”


How true this is!  I’ve found myself looking forward to the days when Mary and I can take Maddison to the zoo, watch her run around in the backyard, and teach her how to wakeboard.  And yet, I’m sure the first time we take her to the zoo she’ll dart off to the monkey cage without us and I’ll reminisce of the days when she cuddled in my arms all day.


We all do it.  You’re either looking forward to having more time for yourself once your kids get older, or you’re looking back to the days when you had a closer relationship with your kids.  Or you’re hoping to retire one day with a full pension, or you’re wishing you could trade your retirement years for the health you once had. 


Goldilocks, as you recall, wasn’t “just right” for long.  The bears came home, chased her out of their home, and she never returned to the forest.  I suggest we all take Emily’s advice.  Don’t wish for your ideal Goldilocks phase because you’ll miss the great things right in front of you.  Cherish and embrace today, because you can’t go back to yesterday and you can’t control tomorrow.

October 2005: Words Aren’t Enough

Did you miss me?  During the time when I’m normally writing my monthly letter to you last month, Mary and I were anxiously awaiting the arrival of our baby girl.  And while we thought pregnancy would never end, the waiting ceased at 3:47 PM on September 2nd.  Maddison Alexandra Sundermier came screaming into this world as a healthy and beautiful treasure in our lives.  Shortly after Maddison was born, I had an excess of emotions and a shortage on words to describe them.  At that point, a thought I have recently contemplated was answered… 


I always thought it humorous that everyone always asks you how much your baby weighs at birth.  Of all things to ask about such a miraculous event, why is the weight so fascinating?  Well, now that I’ve been through the experience myself, I think I know why it is such a classic question (Maddison was 7 pounds & 13 ounces, by the way).


Someone once told me a baby is born every six seconds.  I don’t know how accurate that is, but its often enough to make it fairly commonplace.  Yet, when it’s your baby, you feel that it has never happened before.  It’s unprecedented, it’s unbelievable, and it’s an absolute miracle.  The emotions are so intense you can’t describe them.  That’s why I believe those wiser than you know to ask the weight of the baby.  Yes, it’s a safe question, but more importantly it’s also an answer a new parent can communicate.  Everything else is indescribable.  As much as I want to articulate the feelings of being a father, watching Mary be an incredible mother, and witnessing a new life enter this world, but no words can justify them.  Sometimes words just aren’t enough.


Think of the last experience you had where words weren’t enough.  Was it a happy time?  Was it a sad time?  Both immense joy and sadness are often difficult to describe.  Its my opinion these indescribable moments are the ones that make us most alive.  How unfortunate that the most monumental times in our lives cannot be adequately shared with others through our words.  But, I guess that’s why we give gifts to those we love, why we take cameras with us on vacations, and why we cry at funerals.  Yes, words are powerful, but they’re very ineffective in describing the most powerful experiences we have as human beings.

June 2005: Wedding Magic

Odds are you have been to a wedding recently or plan on attending one later this summer.  It is officially “wedding season,” and what a magical season it is.  I was lucky enough to attend two weddings over Memorial Day weekend as I saw some of my best friends tie the knot.  That weekend reminded me of how special those days are, and I hope you feel the magic at the next wedding you go to in the near future.


The weddings I went to were beautiful.  All of the details had been thought out, and being a guest at these weddings made me feel like I was a part of royalty.  It’s almost bittersweet, but picture-perfect weddings have nearly become the norm.  We nearly expect the ceremony to take place in some fairytale location, the wedding cake to look like Martha Stewart herself decorated it, and the flowers to look like they were cut that morning.  Tons of time and money are devoted to the details, which we absolutely enjoy and appreciate as guests.  It’s an honor for a bride and groom and their families to exert so much effort on pleasing their attendants.


But that’s not what makes a wedding magical, and that’s not what I enjoy most about them.  I don’t care how great your DJ is or how nice of food you put on my plate, the magic I see and feel is in the eyes of the new couple.  You can see their potential, their love, their commitment, and their excitement.  Those emotions are what a wedding and a new married union is all about.  I was honored to be the best man at one of these weddings, and as the best man you have the best view in the house.  You stand right behind the groom, and get to look straight into the eyes of the bride during the ceremony.  That’s where the magic is.


If you’re someone who thinks weddings are boring, or thinks they’re overdone, or thinks they’re a waste of money, you are right in many regards.  But, in my opinion, your perspective is wrong.  Try to look for the good in something, and you’ll find it.  Next time you’re at a wedding, look for the magic.  Stop wondering how much the live orchestra cost, or how long it took to sew the bride’s dress.  Just look into the eyes of the bride and groom, and you’ll see it.  It won’t be hard to find.