I read a blog the other day (3 Shared Paths, one of my favorites), and the latest post discussed the recent solar eclipse and how long it would be until the next one: 19 years.
Rebecca mused on how long 19 years feels—not is, chronologically but really feels—and how much a life can change in that time span.
My favorite gem:
What will be the themes in your life 19 years from now? Take some time to really think about it because you’re building that time in your life right now.
That hit a nerve. Definitely.
19 years ago, I was a different person. Hell, that was three whole people ago. In 1991, I was idealistic, lazy, depressed, and hopeful. Yes, all at the same time. I had my whole future ahead of me and I knew it, so I didn’t waste much time with the present.
Unfortunately, that particular present was the last place I had the chance to see my great-grandmother alive. Or visit my childhood home which was later bulldozed for the maintenance area of a public golf course. And it wasn’t long afterward that I had a crisis of faith, my first broken heart (which is really the only one that matters, isn’t it?), and a breakdown in the identity of my youth.
So much has changed since then, and I must have been the one that changed it—for better and for worse.
I’ve rebuilt, and I’m better for it. You always are.
It takes a lot of breaking to make a solid person.
That doesn’t mean it was simple. When you’re a kid convinced of invincibility, as all kids are, the first problem is always the hardest. You disbelieve that bad things really are going to happen, or that your turn for old age is just around the corner.
Rebecca’s blog post reminded me of a tiny poem I wrote when I was in my 20s:
when I am thirty
I shall believe
that I will die
for as a child,
were equally impossible.
I find it in a folder again every few years.
Umm, yeah. It happened, just as I suspected it would. I was right.
The poem’s a bit overdramatic, as many of my twenty-something and teenage poems were, but the concept still fits.
Now I know, without a doubt, that I am going to die. I will have a last breath, leave my body, and go wherever it is we go. My body is going to only fall apart more, not develop or strengthen, from here on out.
I will no longer have a voice or an experience. I will vanish, too.
I’ve been brooding on mortality lately. (I’m a morbid little punk.) When you think about it too much, it just all seems like such a waste. 70-100 years is so terribly short a time to accomplish everything you can, from start to finish—and getting that long to do it is under the best possible circumstances in the first place, blindly taking for granted that you don’t die in a car wreck or succumb to some disease or another long before 70.
Life is too short.
The John Ondrasik song “100 Years” sums it up best, I think.
That song. Yes. That’s where I am today. Exactly there.
I’ll be brighter later. These days there are serious family health things going on, financial worries, parenting battles, and major work stresses. (Those are constant, though; freelance work is never a consistently smooth ride.)
I’m not complaining. Please don’t think I am. I love my family and the fact that I get to stress about deadlines in the first place.
It’ll all be okay in the end. I have faith that it always is, even when that has to mean that life is tangled with thorns and razors in the midground from here to there.
This year has been reflective for me, and quiet. Seriousness has a place, and that’s all right sometimes. If you never pull back and look, really look, then you don’t know where you are in the path on the first place.
You can’t recognize the good times until you’ve murdered your ego through the bad times.
(That sounds more Buddhist than I actually am. Huh.)
But life is intentional, difficult or not, and this is mine. When it gets better, I’ll rejoice and bounce around a little in my shiny happy new circumstances. Until then, I’ll appreciate what I have, work to make things better, and enjoy the time I have with my family whatever our current flavor may be.
You have to be careful spending the time you have. You don’t get more.
I try to remember that, but I’m human. I get pissed off about toilet paper rolls hung the wrong way and bills mailed late (ha! paid bills?) and having to clean the house from scratch nightly. Everybody nitpicks, I suppose.
But overall? I love my husband. I adore my kids, and feel privileged to be able to watch them grow up and change before my eyes. I get to do what I enjoy for a living, albeit a meager one at the moment. Maybe these are the golden days. Maybe we’ll win the lottery and remember these years as the ones when times were tough and we were young and in love and we had to live in a tiny space nestled into bed with the baby.
Life isn’t always rosy, but it could stop at any minute. And then it’s done; whatever happened is over and that’s the legacy you’ve left. There is no correcting it; there are no do-overs.
Life is the bills, the groceries, and the years winding by in a less-than-perfect state. It’s the memories made over crappy, burnt breakfasts and dead dogs and Christmas presents that aren’t quite as expensive as the gifts you’d like to be able to give.
Life isn’t in the clouds. It’s here, in the dirt and the mud.
And it’s beautiful.