After a long and arduous hunt, Theodore Roosevelt finally got the bull caribou he had been tracking. “It was one of those moments,” he later wrote, “that repay the hunter for days of toil and hardship; that is if he needs repayment, and does not find life in the wilderness pleasure enough in itself.”
As you watch your kid walk across the stage at their graduation, as you watch them walk for the first time, as you see them buy their first house, as you watch start for the high school football team, there is a certain sense of pride you feel. You did it. It was worth it. All your time and effort succeeding.
It’s a wonderful feeling, and by all means enjoy it. But it’s important to remember that that’s never what this was about. As Roosevelt was trying to say, a hunter who only enjoys bagging their quarry is likely to be a disappointed hunter, nine times out of ten. More importantly, they are a blind and deaf hunter who needlessly misses out on the majesty of life outdoors. The parent who thinks this is an occupation you “win,” who believes it’s about those special, big moments, is missing a lot of majestic life as well.
It’s not about the future, about getting through the terrible twos or terrible teens, on some idyllic end-result. The next milestone is not there to assure us the days of toil and hardship were worth it. We can’t forget to notice and appreciate the little pleasures of the experience, the right-here-and-now.
Find pleasure enough in what’s present today. Don’t get distracted by the future you crave (or fear). Don’t demand repayment for the struggle—because the struggle is where the true rewards live. Cherish these things while you can.