Olivia Newport kids in cage

Two kids in a cage with the puppy they love. Photo by Larry Mohr.

Don’t scroll past the photo!

I’m writing this post because I love this photo. These are two of my sister’s kids in their dog’s cage a couple of years ago. (Yes, he’s a big dog, a curious, friendly yellow lab. He takes up the whole cage now.)

I stayed with my sister while in Chicago recently and saw what’s going on in her life close up. Her son was taking high school finals and has two years left, but her two college daughters were in the weaning process, as my sister calls it. This summer, they are both living on their own and working before returning to Wash U in the fall. One of them—the one missing from this photo—works two jobs and has a little entrepreneurial thing going on the side. The other is experiencing what it’s like to move into an empty apartment and have to furnish it from the ground up. And in the middle of all this, my sister and her husband got a new fence, because they’ve been in that house twenty years and it was time.

Life changes. And we have to change with it. If we don’t, then we might as well be trying to live in a cage.

It is possible to purposely cage ourselves into a stage of life. It is possible for our vision of the future to take on walls and bars to the point that we do not see beyond them. We see only the shoulds and musts of immediate life, rather than the coulds and mights of next week, or next year, or the next decade.

Change is terrifying. Change is exhiliarating. Change is welcome. Change is unwelcome.

All true.

But let’s not get caged in and miss the next great stage of our lives.

• What do you hope is the next great stage of life for you?