In one week from today, I’ll be 54. I used to think that was ancient. I used to think that was so far away. More than a half century of living – how have I changed?
I have more wrinkles, that’s for sure. I’m slower – that’s for sure true. I have more time, more patience, and it would seem – more to do. I’m sure I don’t. I have less to do but it seems I have less time. Time flies. That’s what changed too. Technically, time hasn’t changed – I have.
How else have I changed? I have been forced to grow up. With both parents having passed away, I am no longer able to count on my Mom and Dad for support. Don’t get me wrong – I still feel like they are there, in spirit, for council. I just don’t get the physical presence, the hugs, the kind and supportive words. So – I have turned more reflective. I have to think for myself.
Growing up is about seeing choices one has and making the best of the choice one makes. That’s called being responsible. I think. There are no second-takes in life. At least, not in this one. I’m okay with that – more than okay with that. Moving on is not difficult to do for me. I live, I learn, I try to adjust my sails to catch a better wind the next time.
Growing up is about knowing happiness is a choice. No one can make a person happy – being grateful is the key. I’ve counted my blessings though my days. When I don’t, I can become negative. Remembering to count blessings isn’t always easy until it becomes a habit. And then happiness follows.
Growing up is realizing that being bored is a matter of personal choice too. It is an attitude. When life offers such rich opportunities, how is it possible to be bored, unless one chooses to not see the bounties in front of one’s own eyes?
Growing up is about realizing the joy of giving back. The greatest rewards in my life have been the times when I’ve done things for others. I’ve stuck by my family and friends through poor health and through death. I’ve put myself in others’ shoes to offer my empathy and support. I’ve put my money where my mouth is to support others who were in need – so they would have a chance to realize their own dreams. I’ve worked hard so that others would find rest. I’ve taught – and I’ve learned.
Finally, growing up is about finding hope and keeping faith. It’s about never giving up and knowing the sun will rise the day after it has set. The rain nourishes the soul; The snow soothes the temper. Having hope – when life seems so bleak is the only way to live. What’s the point of giving up? Believing in a reason, believing there is a purpose, and believing in a future (no matter how long) is not easy to do – but the alternative is too sloppy and ugly.
I will be 54. That’s three more years than I thought I’d have after my cancer diagnosis. Since then, my life has changed dramatically. My family’s lives have changed. My friends’ lives have changed. I have found life. I am beginning to understand myself. I have a lot more to understand but, in time, I believe I will grow and learn.
More than a half century of learning. If I could put my life lessons in a bottle – to cork them up and pass them along – what would my elixir taste like? I would hope it would be sweet. I would hope it would be intoxicating. I would hope someone would appreciate them and find joy in the lessons.
Cheers to life! Cheers to birthdays! Cheers to living!