My life has mostly been lived in a fog. There is not that much I remember of it except that I got through it. Of course there are the iconic moments that are pressed into my brain like an old waxed record like Disneyland, the first day of school, getting married, painful pregnancies, the funny things the kids said or did, the death or our parents, a retirement trip to the East Coast, etc. but for the most part it is blown into the wind like a wispy dandelion in Spring .
Good, bad, or indifferent I really don’t think I would want to relive a second of it. Not because it was awful or terrible or oppressive or painful or anything close to that. Of course, there were parts that were definitely like that as well as the happy, joyful, funny, peaceful, sweet times the same as with everyone else alive on this mortal coil. I wouldn’t want to relive any of my life because in my mind as soon as a moment occurs it is now history. You know the saying, “You’re dead to me.” Whether it lives past short term memory to be nestled among my iconic moments or not is in question, but moving forward is the only way I personally know how to approach life in general. Shake off the good with the bad, the funny with the sad, the horrible with the glad. Onward and upward I say. “Just keep swimming,” as Dory everyone’s favorite memory-challenged blue fish would chant.
Dwelling on neither the really bad stuff or the incredibly great stuff I’ve experienced keeps things balanced for me. It seems to be easier for memory to be indelibly imprinted by the bad things than it is the good; but it’s so important to toss those things to wind and let it die and shrivel or live and breathe where it needs to be, in the realm of historical fact. We are our possibilities and not our mistakes and definitely not somebody else’s mistakes, after all.
Acknowledging and learning from the negative while embracing and appreciating the positive will keep us whole and ultimately create a sense of peace, well being, and happiness. Keeping a journal is a really beneficial thing to actively track your life. Of course, nowadays there’s always snippets of your existence in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Myspace, Snapchat, and the like for review if you are so inclined to participate in the social media deliciousness.
For those of us lucky enough to live a life of many years, you spent a lot of time just trying to get through each day. Getting up everyday to go to a job no matter what is happening in your personal life or how much sleep you’ve had or how badly you feel, then struggling to pay bills while still scraping up the money to create experiences and happy memories, raising a family through all that comes along with that. You’ve gone into robotic mode just to survive and get the job done every day, every month, every year … After all, it is a jungle out there.
Then you wake up one day and it is finally the date you have had seared into your internal calendar since you were young. You are now able to retire. What?!? When did that happen? How did that happen? You mean I don’t have to report every single thing that happens to me and my family to a boss anymore? I don’t have to drive in the dark on frozen country roads for miles to get to the workplace? I can just wake up and do what I wish? I can take a vacation whenever I want and stay away from home as long as I want? I am now visiting my kids at their homes instead of picking clothes up off the floor and fixing them meals and getting them to their ballgames? I have grandchildren that are growing into their own as adults? Instead of sloshing a cup of second-rate coffee from the cafeteria to my desk, I can just brew a cup of great coffee in the kitchen and sit in the garden on a Monday morning slowly sipping it while feasting my eyes on the flowers and enjoying the wildlife? I can lounge around with my cat or more accurately the cat can pester me all day, any day? I can meet family and friends for lunch instead of trying to figure out an evening when we all might be available? And so so much more. I highly recommend it for those who have punched out a day-to-day life for themselves and can finally burst through the tape at the retirement finish line!
As I adjust to retirement, the more I reflect, the more I cannot believe everything I’ve lived through, all the struggles, all the heartache, all the fun times, good experiences, people I’ve loved and known along the way. I’ve actually had time to come out of the fog that was my life for 64 years to analyze and appreciate the life I’ve lived and the people I’ve lived it with. I have friends and family who remember more than I do about some parts of my own life. There’s still many obstacles to overcome because if there are no challenges that’s when we finally know we’re dead. I still can’t really afford many things, but the list of things I need or think I need at this stage in life is much shorter than it used to be. I just wish I was able earlier to appreciate life itself while it was happening and not just trying to live through each moment to get to the next like a warrior in battle with a Teflon set of coping skills. After all, it is a jungle out there.
My advice to you today is to force yourself out of the fog and into the clear light. Your life will be in your rearview mirror much quicker than you’d ever think possible… Sandy