I have a conundrum. One I’ve spent too much time mulling over. One I keep pushing down and telling myself to stop being such a whiner about. I feel shame about this. I feel deeply vulnerable about sharing it, but here goes.
I’ve spent the majority of my life looking forward.
- As a little girl: What do you want to be when you grow up? (A princess, a shop owner, a Olympic gymnast, an adventurer to name a few).
- As a teenager: What are your college goals? (Scholarship for basketball, degree in psychology so I could go into business with my dad).
- As a college graduate, wife, mom, and generally lost young adult: What are you going to do with your life? (God . . . I have no idea, but it includes changing diapers and going to work and letting someone else take care of my baby and a general unease that life should be more than this).
- Then: What do you want to do when you retire?
The questions go on and on, and they all point to a life ahead, not living life now.
Nine years ago I had an accident that changed my life (maybe I’ll write about it one day, but for now know this: breaking both arms is not conducive to starting a writing career). Since that day, bit by bit, I’ve structured my life around enjoying life NOW. Reflecting on those questions about the future, I realize I am right where I always wanted to be (minus the fabulously rich and famous novelist part). I write every day from home. I travel often. I get to structure my day however I want. My husband is attentive to my every need, my best friend, and totally sexy. My kids are healthy and growing into adults that I am extremely proud of. I have the best friends in the world (you know who you are–Tracy, Mamie, Rosie, Kim, Deb). Life is good.
Here come the whiny questions . . .
If I have this amazing life, why am I angsty? Why do I feel like I’m missing something huge? Why don’t I revel in smug contentment?
If you know, please share. I keep envisioning Curly from City Slickers holding up one finger and telling Mitch (Billy Crystal) the meaning to life is “Just one thing.”
I don’t have a solid answer. But I do have a suspicion.
What if this angsty, ever-swelling hole of discontentment has to do with giving myself permission? Permission to live life the way I want to and not compare it to my childhood life or to others ideas of what life should be or to TV life. What if it’s about giving myself permission to explore what I like, permission to fail, to change my mind, to grow into a truer version of myself. What if I stop saying “NO!” to things I think are frivolous or on the no-no list or to things I think others will judge me for. What if all this keeps me from living fully?
If this is true, the next logical question is: What do I keep saying “no” to?
Honestly, I have no idea. But this gives me a reason to start another list (I love lists) and to be more intentional in my thought life. Time to start giving myself permission. Here goes . . .