"No, I don't want that one! I want this one!" A common phrase expressed by my toddler. He doesn't want a particular shirt, he wants another one. Sometimes, I want to throw my hands up in utter exasperation. He's so stubborn and strong-willed, my son, but as the saying goes, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree." And I know that my mother had the same conversations with me, twenty-seven years ago. We make our way up the spiraling staircase of life, but we repeat the same patterns, and do the same things. I don't doubt that my son will have the same conversation with his own child twenty-some years from now, G‑d willing.

I watch people risk their lives to save a whole minuteOn most days when I take my son to preschool, he runs excitedly to get there. I think to myself, "Time is flying so fast, he's only two and he's already running away from me." At least, for now, he also runs to me when I pick him up, but how long will this last before the table is turned and he becomes so occupied that I'll have to run after him? How long will it be before he decides that he knows more than me, or that I'm no longer fun to be around? Will there be a day in the not too distant future when he walks too quickly for me to catch up and talks too quickly for me to understand?

For the past ten years, I've made various friends with people who are three to four times my senior. When I visit them, I realize that I have to talk slower and louder. They want me to tell them about my life, but they mostly want me to listen as they unleash years of wisdom and stories. It's true that I've heard the same stories repeated over and over. I've also heard about more aches and pains then, I think, a doctor. But from these acquaintances, I've picked up recipes and learned how to sew. I've been taught invaluable life lessons and been entertained by stories that, if written down, would be best-selling thrillers. I always walk out richer than when I enter.

Have you noticed that the world is speeding up? No one has time anymore. I take my son for a leisurely walk and I catch myself hurrying him along. I see little children dressed up like adults, and made to sit quiet for way too long. I watch people risk their lives by walking against a red light to save a whole minute. And I ask myself, "Where are we rushing to? Why do we push and want to speed everything along?"

Lately, I've been visiting a friend of mine. She's in her mid-eighties. I always take my son along and we affectionately call her "Savta" (Grandmother in Hebrew). When I visit Savta, I have to remind my self to speak slower and louder. The last time we went to visit her, she baked us two cakes, one to eat at her home and one for the journey home. Her eyes are always youthful and sparkling with humor, but this time Savta was a bit down. She admitted to me that she's a bit depressed. When she visits with her family, they talk too fast, she complains to me, and they don't involve her in their lives. No one has any time for her. She feels like an old rag, she admits, one that you keep in the corner. This visit made me so sad, for Savta is a treasure chest with hidden jewels waiting to be discovered.

A renowned Chassidic psychiatrist relates how a man was once sobbing hysterically on Yom Kippur. The people around him asked, "Why so much?"

He replied, reading from the Yom Kippur prayer book, "We came from dust and will return to dust. It's so depressing."

"It's true," he was answered, "But you have a wonderful thing in between — it's called life."

Life is so shortSince my visit with Savta, I've come to look at things in a different light. Life is so short and we're here for such a small amount of time. I ask myself again, "Where are we rushing to? Doesn't time move fast enough without us having to speed it along? I realize one does not live forever. If I don't take the time to be with my elders now, what will I do when they are already gone? And if I don't take the time to visit and spend with them, will anyone take the time to visit and spend with me with I'm older?