How Far Can you See?

by | May 28, 2001 | Time

On a recent trip to one of our state parks I overheard a young man and his grandfather as they were touring the park. I was there to find peace and quiet. They were there to find each other.

“How far do you think you can see?” The young man asked as he pointed to a nearby observation tower.

“At least until the end of the day,” the man replied.

“What? What are you talking about, Pop? I wanted to know how far you can see from the top of that tower.”

“Oh, I guess as far I choose to,” he replied.

“Okay, you’re trying to make a point here, aren’t you?”

“One day when you’re my age, you’ll find yourself taking every opportunity to make a point with your children. There’s only so much time and so many points to make.”

“But I’m not a child any more, Pop.”

“Teaching your children never ends,” the man said. “Just like learning never ends. The day you think you know everything you need to know is the day you stop living.”

“So what’s the lesson here?” The young man asked.

“Where you are going and where you’ll end up is all related to where you are at the moment and how far you can see,” the man said.

“I don’t understand,” the young man replied.

Now I was completely involved in this conversation without really being a part of it. I was hoping that they’d stay right here so I could hear more.

“Take for instance this man seated nearby,” the man said.

“What? I’m sorry, were you speaking to me?” I asked nervously. I was embarrassed. I thought he caught me listening.

“I’m guessing you are in your fifties,” he said.

“Good guess. I’ll be 54 this year,” I replied.

“I’m 78 and you’re in your twenties,” he said pointing to his grandson.


Then turning toward me, the man asked, “How do you see your future?”

I paused for a moment to think.

“Well, I was just having this conversation with my wife the other day. There was a time when the future seemed endless. Now, at 54, I can see the future closing in on me. I still have a lot to accomplish and less time to do it.”

“And you, how do you see the future?” He asked his grandson.

“Like infinity. I mean, I know there has to be an end, but I’m young and I’ve got my whole life ahead of me,” the young man said.

“So you have all the time in the world, I can see until the end of the day and this man sees somewhere in between that.” The man said.

“Come here,” he said motioning to me to join them.

The three of us stood there with our backs to the sun facing the tower off in the distance. I began to see what the old man saw. That tower was the future.

“It all depends on how far you choose to see. One person would stand here and see the tower but wouldn’t even think of climbing it. Another would look at the tower and wonder what they could see, but too many little things could stop them from doing it. Still another, would see the tower and imagine in his or her mind a magnificent view. That person would climb it just to see if it was all they imagined it to be. Their vision and spirit for life would see them standing up there already,” he said.

I was wondering which of those three people I was.

“Son, I want you to see yourself there already. That’s how you reach goals in life,” the man said.

Although it was only a moment in time, I believe each of us saw past opportunities scrolling through our memories like the final credits in a movie. Without saying another word, we headed for the tower.

Standing on top, I truly felt like I was looking into the future and it was indeed a magnificent view.

Bob Perks


How Far Can you See?