My kids are in the blanket fort years. This is the stage of child development that follows the “floor is lava” crisis and overlaps with the “Did you feed your hermit crab?” phase.

life plan

Photo Credit: David Clinton

Last week I walked into my living room and was greeted by a massive spider web structure made of afghans, chip clips and, regrettably, every pillow in the house. This fragile stronghold was stockpiled with contraband snack food, stuffed animals, a lightsaber or two and a dim flashlight about whose origin I am still unclear. Each supply was lovingly tucked into its own special nook.

If you are envisioning a charming, Pinterest-worthy tent made with canopying sheets and tulle netting, rest assured: it was not that. I think most of us would have looked at it and said, “That is unfortunate.”

However, the small human architects behind its construction saw it with very different eyes. They were so proud. So excited. Affection, it seems, is the glue that holds a good blanket fort together. Affection and sturdy, load-bearing throw pillows.

How we see determines what we see. I need to remember that.

I recently turned forty. I’m not going to lie; it has been weird. There is a growing sense of my own temporariness that seems to be lingering in the background of my mind at all times. It has always been there, but it feels like somebody turned up the volume a notch or two.

Forty means that I am not new anymore. Forty means grey whiskers. Forty means laugh lines when I smile. And when I don’t smile. Forty means a mind that struggles in the shower to recall whether or not I put shampoo in my hair. Forty means gratitude that I still have some hair left to shampoo.

Forty means I am aging. But I have been aging my whole life. I have never not been aging. Aging means I am alive. I need to remember that.

I’ve been ruminating on some bigger (and probably unanswerable) questions: Do we ever truly know what we are doing? Or are we all doing our best to build a coherent life out of the objects, habits, opportunities, roles and relationships that we find around us?

Are our lives in essence, blanket forts?

Blanket forts come assembly required, but with no instructions. You make them up as you go. Life is the same way.

Technically, there are tons of instructions out there. Experts, gurus, your parents, your parents’ friends; people love telling each other how to live their lives. In the end though, we all have to cobble together our own design. If you’re lucky, you get to do it with someone else who knows they’re making it up as they go, too.

Perhaps, like the blanket fort, what is most important about our life is the eyes with which we view it. How we see determines what we see. Maybe if we look at our lives with loving, curious and grateful eyes, we will see an improvised masterpiece filled with messy beauty.

And hopefully, a little contraband snack food as well.

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Next Post: On February 23rd, Kelly will be writing about “The Most Important Choice You’ll Ever Make” 

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David Clinton

David Clinton

David works with adolescents as well as adults. His clients deal with a wide range of challenges including anxiety, depression, relationship and family conflicts, trauma, Attention Deficit Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and spiritual struggles related to mental health.

David and his wife live in the western suburbs on Chicago with their two children, who David says “fill my days with laughter, excitement and a significant amount of property damage.”

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David Clinton
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