Monday, March 20, 2017
The Next Forty Years
I'm not sure what I expected as I turned 40 this past weekend. I knew the world wasn't going to end, of course. I knew it was just one more day past 39, and I'd already felt old for some time. But I realized that day that it wasn't the big monster I'd made it out to be, just like thirty wasn't.
The truth is, we never know how much time we have here. I might not even be halfway through my lifespan. I might have a heart attack tomorrow. There's no possible way to predict, so what's the point in trying? Why focus on how much time you may or may not have left? Why not, instead, focus on what you can be doing with the time you DO have, day by day?
I spent a great deal of my life waiting for The Next Thing. I've spoken of this before (well, written.) When I was in elementary school, I couldn't wait to be in high school because my brother was so cool and his friends were so cool and I wanted to be like them. I couldn't wait to drive. I couldn't wait to get out of my parents' house and go to college. I couldn't wait to be married out of college and move closer to my parents. I couldn't wait to get divorced and stop feeling miserable all the time. I couldn't wait to be single, to date, to have an apartment of my own. On, and on, and on. At some point, I learned that I regretted things so much more often when I couldn't wait to do them, jumped in, and then pined away for the good old days. The good old days before I had bills and responsibilities and pressures, before I had obligations and payments and expectations laid upon me. So I lived my life in this torpor between wanting the future and missing the past.
So I was never happy.
Do you know what I am now? Right now, in this moment? I'm happy.
Not because I have finally gotten to the place where I want to be, but because I have learned to enjoy where I am while I'm there. Instead of complaining that the baby never sleeps well, I'm taking advantage of this delightful nap he's taking by getting some things done I've been wanting to do. Instead of lamenting that we had to buy a new washer the day after we had to fix our garage door, I'm loving the fact that I can do my laundry and press a single button to lift my door up and down. Instead of wishing for the day when I can move out of this area to somewhere I can get good coffee and have pizza delivered, I'm finding joy in the things I CAN do while I'm here.
I'm thinking about the next forty years, but realizing that I can wait for them. I can wait, day by day, living in the moment, basking in the joys when they're here and scurrying past the sorrows when they're near.
As I look back, these last forty years went pretty quickly. My goal is to fill each moment with as much impact as I can so that, when I'm eighty, I can look back without regret and look forward to whatever the next forty will bring...