In a packed house of relatives this past holiday, my mother shared a speech she had prepared. It was about her life and the years that had gotten away from her.
She said in her early childhood, that she could turn her body into a circle, head-to-feet, backwards. She said in her twenties she kept looking back at her early childhood ability with sorrow, thinking about how she couldn’t do what she once did. Could she have been a dancer?
In her thirties, she looked back at her twenties, with sadness, at opportunities lost. “At 40, I found myself at a crossroad,” she lamented as everyone looked on.
She said she was feeling sad and hopeless that the time that gotten away from her. She then came across the poem by Dylan Thomas titled “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night.” That was her turning point.
At that point, she started playing tennis and line dancing. She enrolled in college and started landscaping. Fast forward some 30 years, she is 74 years old and calls herself “Hercules’ sister.” She is known for moving earth, huge rocks, and shoveling snow with her bare hands! Ok, with gloves! You get the point! Her green thumb just earned her a certificate of recognition in the town where she lives. You go grandma!
But what about you? Are you letting life get away from you by worrying about what you have lost? My mother spent half of her life, looking at the first half of her life. She didn’t see the life that was moving in front of her.
Like most of us, her path was not easy. She grew up with many difficulties in the deep south of rural Alabama in the 1940s; not entering school until the second grade. But, she turned a cruel beginning into an incredible new life. What was your cruel beginning? What will be your amazing new life?
Nobody is perfect. We all let our lives get away in one way or another. Sometimes we waste years in a bad relationship. Sometimes we waste years partying and not building our future. Sometimes we let great opportunities go because we thought things would magically work out without any effort. Sometimes we talk ourselves out of taking career risks, business risks, or even having kids. Many spend years thinking they are not good enough or worrying about what people think.
Regret is a painful memory. Youth moves quickly. Your teens are brisk. The twenties and thirties run like the rivers that never stop. That is, until you turn 40 and realize what I just said is true. On and on, time stops for no one. It doesn’t stop for me, it doesn’t stop for you, it doesn’t even stop for Kim Kardashian.
So, make the most of whatever time you are in. Old? Young? Who cares. Live every day like it is your last. No, not recklessly, but with a determination that life is a one-way trip.
Bad memories, regrets, and time lost are all just different ways of saying the word “history.” So, get out of your personal history class and back into life.
It’s funny how a painful junior high school memory can follow you for a lifetime, yet what you learned in algebra not even make it home on the school bus.
You do the math on the time you lost. It’s time to let all the worrying and inactivity go! Are you letting life get away from you?