Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Next 40 Years

“Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.”
― Allen Saunders

I was puttering around the kitchen this morning, putting away dishes, feeding animals (the furry ones, not the human ones), making coffee, and pondering what I am going to DO with my life.  It was a pretty big question for 5:30 in the morning and I hadn't yet started the intravenous caffeine drip.

I spent the majority of my first 18 years on the planet looking forward to college.  When I'm 18, I thought, I'll move to a BIG city and I'll go to school.  I'll be ON MY OWN.  And that (except for the BIG city part unless you consider Raleigh a big city...which, honestly, was WAY bigger than anywhere I'd ever lived), was what I did.  I had never really looked BEYOND college, though, and was a bit flummoxed when I found myself chock full of a brand new bachelor's degree and nothing really to DO with it.  I had had grand plans at one point.  I was going to join the Peace Corps and Save the World. But then I got a serious boyfriend and he was fairly insistent that our relationship would end if I spent the greater part of two years in Africa.  Since everyone KNOWS that a BOYFRIEND is really the best thing in life, I stayed home.  I stayed home, flummoxed and floundering.

Well, that Boyfriend and I got married.  And THEN I spent the next six years looking forward to The Next Big Move.  He had joined the Navy.  We moved to Florida and I looked forward to moving to South Carolina.  We moved to South Carolina and I....well, OK, I didn't look FORWARD to moving to Connecticut but I thought it might be interesting.  We moved to Connecticut and I REALLY looked forward to moving to Hawaii.

When we got to Hawaii, I started looking forward to getting out of the Navy.  THEN, I thought, then life will REALLY begin.  I got pregnant and I looked forward to the baby.  Then I looked forward to HIS 18th birthday.

When we got out of the Navy, I looked forward to "settling down" and buying a house.  And having another baby.  And HIS 18th birthday.  Because my Husband knew that I NEEDED something to look forward to, we planned a 10th anniversary trip.  So I could look forward to traveling to St. Lucia.

And then, something funny happened.  I had NOTHING ELSE TO LOOK FORWARD TO.   Life stretched out in front of me like a vast wasteland of....nothing.   Nothing but plain ol'  How do you DEAL with that?  It sounded so...boring.

So I started taking classes.  I mean, I took a LOT of classes.  I wanted something to look forward to.  I tried to feed myself new things in a desperate attempt to find something (anything) to cling to.

And then, another funny thing happened.  I got divorced.  At that point, there really was nothing left to look forward to other than, well, dying.  Because I had done it all, hadn't I?  I had been to college, landed the Boyfriend, had the Kids and then...nothing.

I spent the first several years after my divorce flummoxed.  And floundering.  I couldn't think of a single thing to look forward to.

And then, I did something pretty cool.  I started living in the moment.  Just for a moment at first.  But I got better at it.  I learned a little more about breathing in.  And breathing out.  And acknowledging that THIS BREATH is pretty fantastic.  I didn't focus on the next breath.  I just enjoyed the breath of the present.  I was so busy for all of my life looking FORWARD that I MISSED most of my first 40 years.

The next 40 will be different (if I get so lucky as to have another 40).  The next minute will be different.  THIS minute is different already.  I pause.  I acknowledge.  I appreciate.  I am grateful.

I sometimes forget my living in the moment lifestyle and I start panicking about what I have to look forward to (other than death).  And then I remember to breathe in.  And out.  And acknowledge that in THIS moment, I have everything I need.

Life is good.

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