This afternoon, driving the kids home from lunch in our sensible Civic hybrid, Noel confessed to taking a long look at a young man on a motorcycle. He was helmetless (common in Arkansas), extensively tattooed, and had a beautiful girl clinging to his back. I understood what Noel was trying to say -- there's a freedom symbolized there that contrasts rather strongly to the minivan lifestyle we're now living.
There are a lot of things I sometimes wish I were able to do, if I were single, or childless, or in a position of less responsibility. Travel the country riding rollercoasters or visiting ballparks. Teach abroad. Heck, just go out to the movies more often.
But the tradeoff for being tied down has its perks. You have no idea how the sunny smile of my little girl makes every day worth living. How the strange enthusiasms and secret satisfactions of my son astound me. How rare and precious is the creative, meaningful work I get to do every day.
Some people get to live all stages of their lives to the fullest. It's probably common -- even cliche -- for people who've jumped quickly into family and work to wish for the greener pastures beyond the suburbs, where young tattooed men roar past on their iron horses with their girlfriend's hair blowing in the wind. Not everyone is lucky enough, though, to have such incandescent reminders of how good they've really got it right here on the home side of the fence. For that, I'm thankful.