E. E. Cummings once wrote that "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." Many of us, me included, have let life kind of happen to us. We've not created what we wanted us to be, but have just reacted to whatever way the wind blew us. Jobs, friendships, situations seem to find us instead of the other way around. Bending and bowing to the direction of the wind, the pull of the tides or the direction someone turns us to face will eventually shape you. By my 40's, I realized that from the outside, I have everything. A beautiful home, a wonderful husband, a rewarding (but stressful) job, healthy family. But from the inside, I feel as if I've just hopped on whatever taxi was driving by, with no real direction guided by my dreams. Wrapped in brightly colored streamers, woven around me like a May Pole, it has become a beautiful life, but constricting and limiting.
We move certain ways in our lives based on expectations, responsibilities, and the way the wind is blowing. Sometimes the direction we think we are going in life is not heading the way we planned and we don't realize it until we look back. It wasn't apparent to me until I looked back and saw that my life had veered off the course of my desire lines and onto the expected, paved sidewalks.
My dad once sent me an obituary that he clipped from the paper with a note. "Isn't this beautiful, " he wrote. "I'd like you to write my obituary like this. You almost feel like you know this woman and what a life!"
It was beautifully written. Truth is, my dad has had, and continues to have, an incredible life. He gives freely to those in need. He had an adventurous life as an employee of the airlines many years ago, where he traveled the world. He continues to travel the world in his 70's. He has overcome mind-boggling personal struggles and has dealt with his share of tragedies. He's very healthy and active. He has a Zen attitude like I've never seen in a person and has such an aura of peace about everything that happens to him. He also laughs frequently and has many, many friends and a varied social life.
He's already written his obituary. I can't write it any better.
Patti Digh, author of "Life is a Verb" says to "Live an irresistible obituary. The story of our lives is one that we should create, not wait for others to write after we're gone." I'm working on that. I've made a few steps in that direction.
A few days ago, I was thinking about what to blog about. I felt as if I hadn't done much to add more life to my life this summer....like go hand gliding, sailing, traveling, trying a new skill, or making new friends and then a friend of mine remarked that I had, in small, nearly imperceptible steps.
I'm having surgery Monday to FIX a bad knee (physical), I changed jobs to EXPERIENCE (mental) a new challenge and I bought an antique car just like my mom had when I was a child to FOCUS (emotional) on a time when I remember my mom being healthy, happy and alive.
I need to change how I look at things because often times the small changes that make the big difference seem to elude us. I'm trying.
I was talking to my neighbor over drinks in their backyard gazebo one night about getting out my bicycle and actually going on a ride in the neighborhood. I probably sounded more excited than I actually was because she called me just two days later to make some concrete plans for us to go riding together. I agreed. We'd get up on Saturday morning, hop on our bikes and ride around. I was dreading it. Our houses sit at the bottom of two steep hills and I didn't think I'd even make it up the hill, let alone around the neighborhood. I was panting up a lung going up that hill. This was going to be painful.
At the top of the hill, I hopped on the seat and started pedaling. Something happened. I heard sounds from the homes that we were passing that I would never hear in a car. I smelled flowers and breakfast cooking and chlorine from backyard pools wafting through the breeze that I was cutting through. I saw bugs, turtles, flowers on the tops of stalks of uncut weeds that I thought were all beautiful. I heard the leaves rustle as the wind blew through them. I had changed my perspective. The neighborhood looked different, smelled different and sounded different but it was still the same neighborhood streets that I drive down a million times.
Perhaps just changing a slight bit pays off big down the road. Standing up to the wind will take some strength and fortitude, but I want to stand tall and look back on my life and feel like I really lived according to MY desire lines, not the paved sidewalks. I just need to change my perspective to make sure I'm on the right path.
Causes Lisa Heeren Supports
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary