I gained a few more pounds than I needed during the long year of the pandemic. I all too often soothed my soul with banana bread or ice cream. As we all began to get out again my clothing told me that I needed to get back some control or invest in a whole new wardrobe. The sweatpants and pajamas that had become my daily uniform during the long months of mostly staying home had fooled me into thinking that I was just as slim and trim as ever. When I stepped on my long neglected digital scale it was no longer working properly so I had to re-calibrate it before it showed me that I had some work to do if I wanted to get back in shape.
Life is like that. We work hard and then get a bit too relaxed and have to consider how to get ourselves back on track. Sometimes we even consider how we might have done a few things differently in the story of our lives. I have to admit that overall I have little about which to complain in how things have turned out for me. There have been many events over which I only had the ability to control my reactions to them. For others I had many choices and did my best to be wise in considering what to do. I admittedly made some mistakes but luckily none of them were profoundly life changing. As I sit here today I feel satisfied with my own history but understand that much of who I am has been a matter of luck, good fortune in being in a place and time that allowed me to mostly fulfill the possibilities of my talents and dreams.
It would only be small stuff that I might adjust here and there. I’d choose the same spouse, the same career, the same place to live. Most of my joy has come from my family, friends and work so I would be loathe to tamper with any aspect of those relationships lest one tiny tweak might change the entire dynamic. Losing my father was profoundly difficult for me but if I that had never happened I wonder if all of the rest of my life would have been very different. I accept that his death was somehow meant to be. I suppose that if he had lived I would never have known what I missed due to the changes that were inevitable. I had to become a stronger, better person after he died. I remembered all that he had taught me and urged me to be. I have carried him in my heart for decades so in some ways he never really left.
If I were to actually change one aspect of my personality perhaps I might have taken a few more risks. I approach life with great caution in everything that I do. It’s not a bad way to be but maybe it has resulted in some part of me not blooming the way it should. I watch my granddaughter taking on the world with gusto, winning and faltering along the way but never being afraid. I know that I sometimes overthink things and then back away from uncertainty. I’ve been a reliable and steady force for my family and friends but just maybe I have undersold myself and my abilities.
I suppose it’s never too late to begin to try things. I won’t be learning how to ski or jumping out of a plane. My bones are too fragile for such extremes but I need to get my book out there for the public to decide whether of not it is of any worth. I must set aside my internal arguments that perhaps writing a memoir was little more than a silly and somewhat self centered process. I have to top worrying about how my story will be received and just get the process done.
I have friends and family members and former students who have written books and enjoyed a modicum of success with selling them. At this point it should not matter as much how well my efforts will be critiqued or enriching but that I was willing to just try to share a story that I believe will help others to deal with the tragedies that beset their lives. I just have to get this done one way or another and quit languishing in self doubt. I think I will contact the young man who agreed to design a cover and find someone who can help me plough through the process of preparing it to upload. The time is now, not tomorrow!
At my age there is always a bit of uncertainty as to how much more time I may have. I sense that I need to use each moment to the fullest. That means never missing an opportunity to embrace and love and encourage the people in my life. The dust in the corners of my rooms can wait now. It is far better to make that phone call or drive across town to spend some time with the people who have so enriched my life. I don’t want to be that person who is always saying that once I get some things done we can get together. It’d be better to hire a cleaning service and have time for what really matters like I did with my yard. Many years ago I found myself spending entire Saturdays mowing and trimming and weeding my lawn. When my mower broke I saw it as a sign that it was time for me to let go of that task and hand it over to someone else. Perhaps there are many other things that I should consider allowing professionals to do instead of frittering away my time attempting to do them myself.
I’ve worked hard over the years. Now I just want to spend time with family and friends, see the world, and feel gratitude for the wonderful life that I have had. It may not have been as I had once dreamed but it has definitely been filled with joy. In truth it’s been a lovely story all around.