A couple of Sundays ago, I was talking to the kids in my Sunday school class and we were discussing what they had been doing during their summer vacation. I then began to talk about how short a time remained before school would start up once again, and was interrupted by one of the high school girls in the class.
"Oh no," she said, leaning forward, shaking her head and frowning, "you are not allowed to talk about how many days are left." She leaned back in her seat, crossed her arms and continued shaking her head.
I quickly realized that school kids do not like to stare into the face of reality, counting down their return to the halls of learning. When I had a similar conversation in early May, however, they had been more than willing to tell me exactly how many days they had left in the school year! Perspective, I suppose.
We're all like those students in our own lives. We eagerly anticipate the fun and the exciting events in our lives; but, we avoid even thinking about those things that are less pleasing to us.
When I have a vacation trip planned, I can't help but start the countdown till I hit the road and begin my adventures. With each morning, I tell myself, "Only four more days till I leave." On the final day, I even change my method of counting, assuring myself that, in only 24 hours, I'll be in......
However, if I schedule a doctor's appointment in two weeks, I count down in a much more vague fashion, noting that, "I have an appointment coming up soon." I try not to think about it, preferring to put it out of my mind until, with only hours remaining until the appointment, I acknowledge that I should get moving and get to where I have to be.
When we enjoy something, we look forward to the next time we can enjoy it. We remember how much fun we had the last time, we romanticize about how good everything was, and we fill our every waking thought with anticipation of having those feelings once again. It might be a trip to Disneyland, a vacation to the mountains of Colorado, or our wedding day to the one we love. We count down, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute.
When the event is something less dear to our heart, there is no incentive to count down. If it's the start of a menial job, the day we get a prostate exam, or the beginning of a trip that we do not want to take, we prefer to pretend that something will happen to change events and to give us another option. If we keep mentally putting off the event, there is always the chance that it will be something else when we finally do arrive.
It's not a phenomena limited to childhood, we continue to do count downs even when we grow into adults. When we're 50, we count down the days until retirement. When we're 70, we count down the days until we travel to Europe. And when we're 90, we count down the time until we go home to see the Lord. Always counting, always anticipating, always waiting.
There are several religions that, at various times, have begun a countdown to the "end of days," with a certainty and a resolute confidence that attracts those who are easily swayed to follow and believe in the prediction. Never mind that the Bible has clearly stated that we shall not know the hour or the day of the end, humans regularly presume to have a knowledge that is beyond our grasp.
There are count downs to the next series of elections. These progressions are littered with scathing accusations, hysterical advertising and more staged photo opportunities than occur with the appearance of a Kardashian.
There are also the countdowns which don't have clear cut, specific deadlines. Nine months from conception to birth, give or take several days either direction. Sometimes the arrival comes early, and sometimes much later than we had presumed.
What is it that your are counting down?
It’s all just my opinion.