Sometimes while people wait for their futures to develop, like a preordained blessing, the window in which that future could have occurred begins to get smaller before it finally, slowly, and without incident or their knowledge, closes silently. They don’t realize that what could have been is gone. They still have their hopes and dreams, but the period in which their ability to capitalize on the promise of those hopes and dreams, to leverage their talents into something tangible that wrinkles the fabric of the world in some way has passed.
There is a window in each of our lives, a period where the intersection of our dreams and our ability has the opportunity to turn potential into reality. Whether our window is large or small, we can’t know at the time. Only time and the length of days can point out when we’ve firmly missed our chance for action. The window closes silently—people do not hear it as it shuts—but the soundlessness continues to reverberate. Whether it’s days, months, or years, eventually we hear its vibrations. In a moment of truth, that person will pause, take a breath, and with painful recognition see with the unflinching clarity of hindsight and time that they have missed their window. Their life isn’t over. They may have many years left. But that only works to let their loss weigh on them. The purpose they were born for—the change they could have brought that would have given them true fulfillment—is only a hollow echo that’s lost to a path in time that wasn’t followed.
That’s the real problem. So many people feel they were born for a purpose. They believe there must be a damn good reason that, out of all the sperm and eggs, they were fertilized, took root, and were brought into existence. It couldn’t possibly be for nothing. How could they be born, grow up, live their lives, and die, having done nothing of consequence? How could they be without meaning? We find this notion depressing. It lacks purpose and the true fulfillment that only realizing our inner hopes and dreams can bring.
And it’s the truth that comes for so many. Often the window opens and shuts much earlier in life than we think. Sometimes we’re still children. Sometimes we’ve barely reached adulthood. I suppose the message is, simply, that it’s of the utmost importance to always have our ears pricked up to the wind, listening for the sounds and looking for the sights and the clues that will guide us toward and through our window. We aren’t born to succeed. We’re born with a chance, though, and that chance is everything. We have a chance if we should prove ourselves to be fighters. If we’re aware of ourselves and work and claw, we can find that window, and scramble up onto the ledge and pull ourselves through to a brighter day, a more meaningful future.
I was lucky. My window was closing, and I would have been shut out—stuck on the wrong side—out in the cold. Most aren’t as fortunate as I, to be almost forcibly pushed toward that opening. And a very rare few are as lucky as Nana. Sometimes the length of days is a gift not simply measured by their number. We have lived and loved, and when we least expect it, perhaps in the very twilight of our existence, a new small window, a porthole to an entirely different world, opens. She’s always had the best instincts. She’s perceptive, like a tuning fork that improves with age. She seized her opportunity. She pulled us all through with her by the scruffs of our necks. She found her second window.