Right now counts forever
“There are no ordinary moments.”
— Dan Millman
Most people want their life to count for something. When we pass away, we hope that our lives meant something, to someone. We hope that our existence mattered.
But most people have no idea how to make life count. They have no idea how to give meaning and purpose to what they do.
It’s a constant struggle. How do I have purpose in my life but still enjoy it?
The Greatest Movie Ever?
“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”
— Christopher Reeve
As a kid, my favorite movie was the first Superman movie with Christopher Reeve.
That movie impacted me more than any other movie.
Looking back, sure, the movie has a few flaws, but I still think the first two-thirds of the movie are perfect.
At the beginning of the movie, Superman’s father, Jor-El, determines that his home planet of Krypton is about to explode. Instead of leaving the planet, Jor-El commits to stay on the planet with his wife for political reasons.
However, Jor-El builds an interplanetary spaceship that will transport his son, Kal-el (a.k.a. Superman) to another planet — Earth.
But what is the beginning of the movie actually about?
Yes, it is an origin story for a beloved superhero.
But the story also describes a father dealing with the harsh reality that he is never going to see his young son again.
And he knows (though no one believes him) that his son is going to be the only surviving member of his race, his species, and ultimately his entire planet.
Jor-El has limited time, so what does he do?
The limitation of time gives him an intense purpose. The man realizes that he only has a handful of moments left. Every single moment has to count or he will face obscurity and meaninglessness.
One stark reality controls his circling thoughts:
- He cannot have a conversation with his son, who is only a baby.
- He will never see what his son looks like as a young man.
- He will never fully experience being a father.
But he nonetheless yearns to make his life count.
Is there any solution for Jor-El?
There is only one solution. Make your life count for something beyond you. Make a promise that can only be fulfilled after you are gone.
“You will travel far, my little Kal-El. But we will never leave you… even in the face of our death. The richness of our lives shall be yours. All that I have, all that I’ve learned, everything I feel… all this, and more, I… I bequeath you, my son. You will carry me inside you, all the days of your life. You will make my strength your own, and see my life through your eyes, as your life will be seen through mine. The son becomes the father, and the father the son. This is all I… all I can send you, Kal-El.”
— from Superman, the movie
Jor-El’s solution is to leave a record of all of his memories, advice, wisdom, and knowledge that his son could access.
Jor-El built into the life-saving vehicle a way that his son could access all of the knowledge that Jor-El could pass on.
While it could never substitute for being present and actually being a father to his son, Jor-El gave his son as much as he could have given at that time.
Jor-El allowed his son to benefit from his life, his experiences, his knowledge, his failures, his successes, and his dreams.
Even though Jor-El left his own memories and thoughts, Superman (now known as Clark Kent) does not immediately have access to his father’s advice and information.
“The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.”
— William James
Clark is raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent on Earth, not knowing anything about his father’s dilemma and his true origins. But this does not last forever.
At one critical point, Clark witnesses Jonathan die from a heart attack. This event starts Clark’s journey to discover his biological father. Clark finds a crystal in the old, preserved spaceship, and eventually discovers a way to create the mechanism where Jor-El’s information can be accessed.
This mechanism, or place, is referred to as the “Fortress of Solitude.” The Fortress of Solitude gives Clark the ability to access his father’s consciousness. Jor-El teaches Clark about the history of his people, about life, and about humanity as well.
Jor-El gives Clark a purpose for his life and explains why he has incredible powers when compared to humans. Clark learns his birth name: Kal-El, son of Jor-El.
One Reason Why I Write
“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
— Benjamin Franklin
So why am I writing about all of this? Why does it matter?
Once I had my first child, I started to realize that there is a possibility that I might not be able to share all of my experiences with my children. Furthermore, I will not be able to share my thoughts, feelings, and struggles as I am experiencing them. That bothered me. Recently, my wife recently gave birth to our fourth child. I have been reflecting on my life and lives of my children even more, and I now realize how this is truer than ever.
No one is guaranteed any moment. Right now may be all there is. But we are not helpless.
Jor-El’s solution is not possible, but I can build my own “vessel” for my children to share my thoughts, experiences, successes (some), failures (plenty), and wisdom. And if someone other my children can benefit, then I would be delighted.
“All good men and women must take responsibility to create legacies that will take the next generation to a level we could only imagine.”
— Jim Rohn
But ultimately, the urgency behind anything I write comes from the same urgency of Jor-El — not knowing if I will ever get the chance to share certain things. Thus, my solution is similar to Jor-El’s: capture my thoughts and save them so that my kids can read them someday and, hopefully, apply the lessons to their own lives.
Now I know I will not solve every problem that they face. For example, in the movie, Kal-El (now Clark Kent) witnesses his adopted father have a heart attack and die. He is challenged because he has started to realize that he has immense powers, such as speed, strength, and X-ray vision. But no power that he had was great enough stop a heart attack. Even though he was given great gifts, Clark had to confront the fact that there were some things that were impossible, even for him.
The death of Clark’s adopted father leads him to seek answers, and Clark eventually finds his true father’s archive.
I know that I will not solve every problem for my children. But I also know that having some answers will be better than having no answers.
Reaching for the Future
“Right now counts forever.”
— R.C. Sproul
Every time I hear the click of the keys compressing on this keyboard, I think of what I am leaving for my children, like Jor-El.
- How can I make a single moment last forever?
- How can I stretch out the value of what I learn on a daily basis and push the wisdom and insight into the future?
- How can I affect something that I cannot touch right now?
Every keystroke attempts to answer those questions.
And so here we are. Me, a keyboard, and you, whoever you are, reading this. Thank you for getting this far. But now, as I write, I expect my children will not be the only ones to gain insight. There is a larger audience at stake. And we will share our wisdom together. So please join me in capturing our successes, failures, knowledge, wisdom, and experiences.
Our moments are numbered. Our time is limited.
Right now counts forever.
This is why I write.
Maybe you should, too.