He is still afraid of the dark. And at 4 years old that was to be expected. So as the daylight began to fade my son started to get nervous. Nevermind the fact that he was with 40,000 people and his parents and sister. He was still worried.
It was at this point my wife and I began to wonder if we had made the right decision taking our four-year old son to the One Direction concert. We had been preparing him for several months now and we already knew that he loved their music.
My daughter and I had seen them the summer before and we had a blast. But there is a big difference between a four and an eight year old. We thought it would be a fun family event and a nice way to celebrate our anniversary and my birthday, which happen to fall only two days apart. But maybe it was too much too soon for our son who had yet to enter preK.
It was at this point that we were ready to do whatever it took to make our four-year old happy. One Direction had yet to take the stage, but we knew it was only a matter of minutes before all of the lights went out and the show would begin. I decided to try sugar and salt.
So I hurried to the concession stand and got him cotton candy and pop corn. By the time I had come back my wife had cleverly convinced my son that the sky was just one big giant roof. He didn’t turn the food away, but this new way of looking at his surroundings helped to ease his worries.
And then they came on stage and my son, along with 40,000 screaming fans, was mesmerized. We had great seats, but I had to hold him so that he could see the stage and the giant video screen.
After about a half an hour my son began to tire. His eyes began to droop and his head fell more heavily on my shoulder. It was 9:30, way past his bedtime. Once again we wondered if we had made the right decision. Was it worth paying the money for his ticket if he was going to sleep through the concert?
But he never did.
He may have been tired, but he hung in there. There were times when I know he could have drifted off. Right in the middle of the concert. And yet, every time I asked him if he was having a good time, he would tell me yes. After the first fifteen minutes, he never complained once.
And then, towards the end of the night they played The Story Of My Life. My son’s favorite One Direction song. His face lit up and he sang along. With his eyes closed and the most incredible smile I have ever seen on his face. That was why we came! For that moment right there! It was unbelievable. To witness my son in a complete state of bliss was something I will never forget.
Looking back it is hard to believe that almost eight years ago my wife and I weren’t sure if having our son was even going to be a possibility. I had just found out that I had prostate cancer and therefore having another child was going to be difficult. Luckily through the marvels of modern medicine and an incredibly strong and determined wife, my son was born over five years ago. By the way I am 100% cancer free and have been for nine years.
My wife went through a lot so that my son could be here today. And I can never repay her for what she went through to have our son. But I can cherish every single moment that I get to spend with her and our two children. They make life worth living. More than that, they make life beautiful!
Usually I have a takeaway in mind when I begin writing a piece. But this time? I’m not so sure. A One Direction concert, in a packed stadium, with 40,000 screaming fans. What is so special about that? It’s been happening all around the world for the past several years.
Maybe it is this. That too often we worry too much. Was my son ready to attend a concert in a packed stadium that kept him up three hours past his bedtime? At first, we weren’t so sure. But by the end of the night we realized that we had made the right decision.
Or maybe it's that experiences like the one that my son and daughter had at the One Direction Concert, play a crucial role in their development. They were very fortunate to have the opportunity to attend such an event and years later if they have children they may do the same for them.
But I think it’s much simpler than what I am making it out to be. Too often in life we search for the entertaining, the spectacular, the incredible. We pay good money to go to concerts, watch movies on large screens and visit places far away that we hope will bring us great joy.
And sometimes they do.
But I can promise you. No concert, movie or destination could ever do what my son’s smiling-eyes-closed-singing did for me that cool summer night. And while it did happen at an expensive concert, I bet it could have happened right in my family room. With no more than an iPhone and a comfy cushion.
Don’t stop going to concerts.
Don’t stop going to the movies.
And don’t stop traveling.
Start taking notice of the wonderful moments that life presents you that are right before your eyes. The ones that don’t cost a thing and the ones that don’t require us to leave home.
And then allow the memory of these wonderful moments to sustain you when times get tough. Tuck them away in a safe place. Revisit them as often as you can. But, don’t stop searching for more.
Because I promise that
if you can slow down long enough to notice a smile,
if you can allow yourself a few extra seconds before letting go,
if you can take the time to just sit and watch and notice everyday Life.
You will begin to see that it is indeed magnificent.
* In the most recent episode of My Bad I got to speak with Dwight Carter. We spoke of fatherhood and the importance of simply being there and being present. Dwight also talks about one of the best nights he's had in a long time. It wasn't at a concert and it didn't cost him a thing.
Click the link below to find out what he did. I promise you it will be ten minutes well spent.