By Dave Markwell

Last weekend, my kids and I drove out of town to visit my mom for a little belated Christmas celebration. The weird midweek holiday schedule made our usual Christmas Eve tradition impractical, so we had to switch it up. This seemed like a minor thing until my 16-year old daughter, Helena, mentioned that this was the first time in her life that we didn’t spend Christmas Eve at Grandma’s house. The small, but logical change became bigger upon this recognition. I suppose all change becomes bigger upon recognition.

I made my 20-year old son, Aden, drive the hour and 15 minute journey. This is unusual. I have been driving this trip, and indeed all trips, forever. This day, I didn’t feel like it. So, in what I suppose is a reflection of a beautiful evolution, I passed off a duty. And, it was wonderful. My son, as many of his generation, is married to his phone. It is a relationship worthy of a ceremony involving cake and fine champagne, and I am jealous of it. Around the house, he speaks in mumbles and grunts with his head down engaged in loving conversations with the interwebs, and I am the distraction. Making him drive, I had him to myself. We visited. I asked questions and he answered in thoughtful and interesting complete sentences. It was fantastic. He’s a fine boy with a bright mind and good heart. I’m proud to be his dad. It was nice to be reminded of this.

At New Years each year, I, like most everyone else, look back and look forward, assessing successes and failures. I face the new year with some hopeful aspirations while cleansing my vehicle’s windshield of the road grime accumulated from my travels learning life’s lessons. In spite of my efforts to expand and grow and reach some certain and stable platform of knowledge and insight, new lessons are learned each year, making me feel no closer to the fantasy of a peaceful and enlightened existence than I’ve ever been. I’m not bothered too much by this anymore. I kind of get it and doubt I’m really built for the fantasy anyway.
This year marks an interesting milestone, in that, we’re entering a new decade. Ten years have passed since the last time this happened. Ten years ago much was different. My son was ten years old and my daughter was six. The decade went quickly, but much has changed. Nothing illuminates the perpetual moving of the clock’s hands brighter than our kids growing up.

Ten years ago, my son was in fifth grade and my daughter was in first grade. I remember this time well. I was married to their mother. We lived in a different house with different furniture and a different yard. Our old dog, Diego, was young and annoying. Work life was different and the days seemed like they would last forever.

Well, that’s not how it works. Everything is different now. The house, furniture, yard, dog and wife are gone. My kids remain, but they’re different, too. I say this with no sadness and mostly gratitude for a wonderful, if impermanent, time in life. All time is impermanent. That’s how it goes and is supposed to go. Things change and we change and the world keeps spinning.

This understanding inspires me as I look ahead to the next ten years. Days can be long, but years are short, and the possibilities taking shape stir my blood to keep moving and thinking and trying. In ten years, my kids will be 26 and 30. My son might put down his phone and enjoy an ACTUAL marriage, at which point I WILL eat cake and enjoy some fine champagne. I may be visiting my daughter in some lovely and warm part of the world. Their lives are sure to change, as is mine. I am strangely comforted by this. I like different. I like moving and learning. I also like the comfort of some things which will not change- my love for my kids and the laughs I share with old friends remain the home ports I return to following every adventure. It’s nice and important to have these things, too.

So, as we prepare to set sail for the next decade, I check maps and compass bearings. I smile as I secure lines and feel the wind. The wind will sometimes be favorable and sometimes not. I’m prepared for both. I look forward to new destinations and ports of call, meeting new people, and loving the people I love…more. I look forward to new adventures and homes and yards. I look forward to more of the good things I already have and the expansion this list. I look forward to good books and sunrises and sunsets and walks on a beach with sand in my toes and a soft, tan hand in mine. As I look forward to these things in my life, I also look forward to them in YOUR life…Happy New Year 2020…here we go!!!

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, whose first book is called “A Feel Good Life” (buy it on Amazon here). Dave extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!”