The other morning at the gym, my son said something to me very loudly. I don’t know what he said. I’m not even sure he heard what he said since we were both wearing earphones and listening to music. But I know he used a loud voice because several other patrons who were not wearing earphones looked in our direction.
Once we got into the car, I had a conversation with my son around the concept of object permanence.
“What’s that?” he asked.
“It’s something that infants develop starting around 6 months,” I explained. “It’s when they understand that an object is still present even when they can’t see, hear or touch it. That’s why they giggle when you play peek-a-boo with them. When you put your hands over your face, they know you’re still there.”
“What does this have to do with me?” he asked.
“Even when you are too deaf to hear your own loud voice over your earphones, other people can hear you,” I informed him.
“So?” he asked in that teenager kind of way that seemed to beg for a reduction in allowance.
“And when you close your eyes and sing Rock Superstar with Cypress Hill, just because you can’t see anyone around you doesn’t mean that you’ve somehow become invisible,” I explained.
“What’s your point?” he asked.
“People look at you with sympathy wondering what kind of large animal kicked you in the head during your early development,” I told him.
“So?” he returned to an old stand-by.
“So knock if off. I’m tired of people shooting me sympathy stares for taking you out in public,” I got to the point at last.
I wanted him to remember that out-of-sight shouldn’t mean out-of-mind. Object permanence. You can’t close your eyes moments before getting into a car accident and be safe because the other car disappeared along with your vision!
But then I started thinking about the importance of object temporary. Many things in life are temporary instead of permanent, and that quality of their passing nature makes them more precious and valuable. A flower in full bloom. A sunset. A baby’s laughter. Your health. Love. Even life. All have expiration dates.
An ancient poet wrote, “This too shall pass” as a reminder that both the good things and the trying things in life are not forever. During times of hardship, take those words as a promise that the trial will not endure for eternity. When you’re enjoying times of prosperity, savor them. Beauty is fading: you cannot hold a sunset in your hands.
Object temporary. Realize that the objects you chisel with your hands will turn to dust. Savor them while you may.
Object permanence. Know that the marks you cleave in the hearts of others are your only chance for immortality. By touching the lives of others, you have a chance to be seen, heard and felt long after you’re gone.