Someone recently said to me, "It's never too late to have the life you want."
Of course, my first response was, "yeah, right, I'd say, "it's usually too late, you've screwed it up beyond repair so just deal with it." (never claimed to be all that upbeat).
As I thought about what he said, I realized that I have lived my life, much of it, in a rather haphazard way. I've done some deliberate things like go to college, raise my kids, leave abusive relationships, attend seminary, become a minister, raise my kids some more…those things I've done with mindfulness and presence (often after much encouragement and support from people who care). But the rest? It's kind of a blur. And this makes me somewhat sad and feeling like I have let a lot of my life just happen rather than pursue it with gusto (like the young people in television commercials do).
"The life I want" is elusive. I don't know what life I want. Most of us only know the life we have. Does the life I want coincide with the life God wants for me? Do I care? (being totally honest here). Let's be honest…even those of us who have really, REALLY, tried to live the life God wants for us sometimes wish that life looked different.
Mostly this meant-to-be supportive piece of wisdom has caused me a lot of sadness. Some days I feel like it is too late. I see young people on the train and in business and I feel as though I wasted my youth doing things that other people wanted me to do. I feel as though I didn't appreciate being young and beautiful (because from where I sit on the train, everyone under 35 is young and beautiful) and I didn't have nearly enough fun. I was insecure. I was fearful. I didn't know I was loved. I let others determine my life. And now I'm kind of ticked that it is gone and I sit here in my 49 year old self wishing it had been different. Wishing I had been different.
After the first piece of wisdom, and my response, he said this, "Regret is inevitable, self-recrimination is optional."
Ok, I get it. I think.
Since I can't go back and be different, and to avoid self-recrimination and do something a little more productive, I've been thinking about what I'd like to tell my sons who are about to embark on adulthood. They are young and beautiful, smart and loved. I want them to sit in their 49th year thinking, "Wow, how awesome am I??" Here goes:
1. When you are young and beautiful, know that you are young and beautiful. Live as though you are the most beautiful creation ever because you are exactly that.
2. The only limits on your life are the ones you place there or allow others to place there.
3. Allow yourself to love and be loved.
4. Have fun. Work is important, fun is too.
5. Keep your eyes open for God. If you let him, he will show you the best way to go.
6. Surround yourself with people who love and appreciate you as you are. Don't mold yourself into someone else's image. You are perfect just as you are.
7. Don't make decisions out of fear or anxiety. Dismiss fear and anxiety from your life whenever possible, they are enemies to good decision making.
8. Do things you love to do. Be with people you love to be with. There is no time to waste with people who bring you down, who criticize, hurt, or demean you. There are so many great people out there, go find them.
9. Even when you feel alone or afraid, know that you are loved and cared for by God and your mother. (and others, of course).
10. Know that you can always go home. For any reason. At any time. Always.
Ok, so I am pretty clear that I am having a bit of a mid-life crisis…maybe a little late since it's likely past the "mid" point…but it's never too late, right? At least that's what I hear...