Have you ever stopped to take an objective look at your life? I know how easy it is to only look at those things that caused you pain, sadness, grief or great despair. And, of course, there are those ‘happy’ moments in your life when you were recognized as someone special, e.g., your wedding, graduation, promotion, having children. Even in those ‘happy’ moments you can easily look back and find a discrepancy, fault or flaw, demonstrating the moment’s imperfection.
No. What I am talking about is looking back and seeing (or witnessing) your life’s experiences in their totality. Not just the peaks and valleys, but the paths you took, with all the events and experiences, that led you to where you are today. Removing the thoughts, concepts and biases of others and their influences, but simply looking at you and your role.
For example, let’s say you were getting married and at the reception, with friends and family standing ready to snap pictures and applaud at the cutting of your magnificent, towering symbol of life’s sweetness (the cake), one of the caterers accidently bumps one of the cake’s table legs. Watching the towering symbol of sweetness begin to sway, knowing you can’t stop it, you rush to steady it from falling; only to have it land on your feet and legs, and the feet and legs of a dozen of your guests. Horror of horrors.
Now, you could look back and see the faults and clumsiness of the caterer, or you could see how the accident made for a different wedding experience for everyone concerned. You could see the humor in it, and find it to be one of those treasured moments in your life, or you could see it as yet one more ‘disaster’ or disappointment in your life.
Having retired last year, I have had the good fortune to contemplate the many, many things I have had the good fortune to experience. I have done a great many things in my life. Nothing like spending a month in an ashram in India, or hiking the great divide, or spending summers building shelters in 3rd world countries, or sailing the vast oceans or seas. But in my 70 years walking upon the face of our great Mother Earth, I have had the great fortune of a life well-lived.
It’s easy to look back over your life and find fault; fault in others, circumstances, events. Finding fault clouds the existence of the experience. You can look back and say, ‘I didn’t get the promotion because my boss …’ or ‘I didn’t go to college because my parents …’ or ‘I missed the opportunity because no one …’. In the example above, you could easily say with great distain and disappointment, ‘We didn’t get any pictures of us cutting the cake because the caterer…’, or you could say, “We didn’t get any pictures of us cutting the cake, but everyone got to take a piece of cake home with them!’ The former is a story of disaster, while the latter is humorous and a memory shared by many.
Those who know me have often heard me say that ‘life is an adventure; its what YOU make it…no one else’. Like you, I have had my share of trials, assaults, disappointments and insecurities. And, like you, I could look back with regrets and fault those in my life whom I chose to give my power (or responsibility) away to. Instead, however, I choose to look back and see the circuitous path that led me to me.
I’m not sure what has led me to seeing my life from the perspective of a great adventure, perhaps its because I am a fan of such writers and celebrities as Joan Didion and Nora Ephron. They have written some wonderful books about their life and times; the early challenges they faced as writers, editors, young adult women and older, wiser women. Or, perhaps, it is because I never know what the next day, the next hour or minute has in store for me. As they say…’the best-laid plans of mice and men/oft go awry’ … doesn’t mean what we plan will actually happen!
It is in the humor of our lives that we see the true essence of who we are, who we have become, and the gifts and adventure laid upon our life’s path. The old saying, ‘You can’t see the forest for the trees’ is true in so many ways. But, you can step outside your past and past events and look with loving, caring eyes, and see your life in a truer, more compassionate and honest view. Will there be things you regret? Probably. But regret is a great teacher. It teaches you responsibility; being responsible (partially or fully) for particular life events; events you will work to avoid in the future. With loving, caring eyes, you will also begin to see the humor.
As a young woman, mother and wife, I took life very seriously. For the majority of my young adult life, as a corporate career woman struggling for job and wage equality, and as a mother of 3 young girls, seeking quality schools and education for my daughters, I took life quite serious. Decision making can be quite serious! But in between those times, life should be exciting… the adventure, and fun … the humor.
Sunday, April 29th, gives rise to the Full Pink Moon. Make it a time for you to reset and reaffirm who you are, who you want to be, how you will get there, and how fortunate you are to be on this adventure we call life. Make it a good one; one well-lived with humor, adventure and happiness.