Friday, October 16, 2015

Sliding out of obscurity

Every year, a few days after my birthday grants me another notch, I sit down and think about the new number I've been assigned. After I turned forty, I didn't care what the number was, just how I was living. How I was breathing.

That air was so fresh after forty.
Forty-seven is even fresher.

When I look at pictures of myself in my twenties and thirties, I see someone who hadn't yet claimed herself. I feel a sharp pang knowing the confidence I have now compared to then, but I don't mourn her. I took her for what she was and have shaped her into the woman I am now. My step feels lighter and my vision clear. My fingers move nimbly over the keyboard as words and phrases fill me. The clarity that comes from added minutes and hours to your life do not come at a price. They come as a gift that must be opened at once and used until spent. 

Don't wait to use your gifts. 
Spread that goodness to the ends of the earth and never question it.
Not once.

Where I hesitated in my younger years to do what I knew I must, now I'm like a freight train barreling down the tracks. Boldness comes with knowing yourself and what you're made of, the cowering fear of stepping out of the box brushed aside. I can still feel those feelings when I'm faced with trying something new, but am now able to walk through it so the fear subsides. 

We can't live our lives in fear of failure.
Just as we can't live our minutes waiting.

So many times we say, "I just don't have the money for that, nor the time." Chances and opportunities slide away into the ether never to be seen again, all because we chose to avert our eyes from it. One day, having never taken chances, we'll wake up and find ourselves old in spirit as well as body. Did we use what we were given? Or did we squander it by being safe and tidy in our boxes? 

This year was a big year for me in stepping out of that neatly tied box. Traveling alone to another country only enhanced my vision for the future. I saw what I wanted and I went after it. My life has been enriched by grabbing opportunity and if I hadn't, I can only say I would be mourning the loss of unused experiences. 

I know it's easier for me now to grab those chances now that the kids are gone, off to find their lives in college and work. It's something I may not have done had I been presented with it when they were still here. I consider part of my life's work raising them with my husband, and knowing they will be productive citizens with minds open and alert. I would say, though, not to close your eyes. Fill your eyes with clarity and be ready for what comes to you. Don't brush it off and say, "No, I can't do this." You'll only regret what you didn't stick your neck out for. It will haunt you as you stay safely tucked into the familiarity of the known. 

I've found nothing more thrilling than the breeze of unfamiliar lands, food untasted that explodes on your tongue, and the knowing that the minutes of a day are yours to shape into only what you want them to be. Another year has come and gone, and it will be three years until I reach one half of a century. I claim each and every minute left in this life to live to the fullest. Don't slide into obscurity not having at least tried. 

Happy 47 to me. 
Three-hundred sixty-five days until 48.
Time to live it up.