If you thought "Cat's in the Cradle" was a heart-wrenching song when you were single, try thinking about it when you're a dad! We can all relate to that boy who missed out on those moments with his father, and the father (who we can also all relate to) missing out on those moments with his son. Life goes by so fast, and there's so much going on! We all have to fess up to the truth -- it's really hard to catch those special moments in life. Harry Chapin knew what he was talking about.
That poor father and son -- it's too late for them. But we won't let that happen, right?
In real life, there are real feelings, real relationships and real opportunities for deep satisfaction, pleasure and connections. But if we don't open up a space inside to hear and hold them, we lose them. We have to create space for the precious moments in our lives and relationships in order to treasure them. And that's what they are, treasure. But they're lost treasure if there's no space to store them.
This message was actually taught to us by the all-star greatest relationships rabbi of all time, Moses. When Moses was told to prepare two stone tablets for receiving the Torah, he was also told to prepare an ark to keep them in. Moses took those two instructions, but he swapped the order. He prepared the ark first, then the tablets.
Our sages tell us this was done purposefully. Moses felt it was important to have the ark built before preparing the tablets. What's the big deal? They're stone, can't they hold up for a few hours while he puts together the ark for them? His actions teach us that it actually is a big deal. Even if nothing would happen in the interim, the experience of having the tablets without a special space set aside for them would detract from their preciousness.
Symbolically, we learn a very special lesson. Without having a space for our "treasure" to be placed, it's not as treasured. Just like the kid in the song, Dad has to make some space for him. Otherwise, like in the lyric "you know we'll have a good time then …" the "then" comes and goes without ever having a good time.
This is applicable to anything we hold dear to us in life. We have to create a space for it to be a part of us and our lives. If we don't have a space within us to hold happiness, special moments, meaning and all the other wonderful experiences life can give us, we won't have anywhere to put them when they do arrive. We might even completely miss them.
We naturally assume that when good things happen to us we'll realize it, dive in and bask in the pleasures of the moment. But it's not true. We don't do it, and often it's because we haven't created a space for it. And then the experience is lost, as if it never happened. This goes for emotions, relationships and spiritual matters too. We need to create within ourselves space for feeling love, hearing the empathy of our loved ones, experiencing a spiritual existence and even for simply being happy in the moment. Otherwise, we could be missing out on all the abundant treasure around us.