Taking Time for Gratitude in Your Second Act
Reflecting on the the past, the present, and the possibilities
Is it time to find the joy in your second act?
If you’re reading this, there’s a pretty good chance that you, like me, may well be into the second half. I don’t say that with an ounce of sadness or regret. It’s a simple fact of life, and a reminder to myself of the loveliness and importance of the many things I’ve spent a lifetime overlooking and often taking for granted. And the wonder and joy that has powered me through.
Not sure about you, but I feel just a tinge of sadness thinking about the opportunities and the time I’ve have squandered. And the joys that went under appreciated.
Break it down
Our days are/were built around getting to work on time, getting to the next meeting, the next challenge, getting through evening traffic for a rushed dinner, countless nights spent mindlessly before the TV.
The sun rises and sets every single day. Yet we photograph and immortalize that special one from our vacation.We post it on social media, frame it and otherwise commemorate it as though it were an event not to be repeated. It’s been happening daily since time began guys. Go experience one today. It’s free!
We live 50 weeks out of a year inching toward (or reminiscing about) those couple special weeks of vacation when we and our families/others seem just a little more interesting, the sun seems a little brighter, the meals slightly more scrumptious, and the sand warmer and silkier.
Life is a series of moments
As I write this at 5:30 am, I’m seated in my most comfy chair, with sweet Abby (my pup you will come to know) gently breathing, snoozing at my side, candles flickering around the room, and I am at peace. Finally. There are no emails to check, no social media clamoring for attention, no voices demanding mind share and reminding me of the myriad “must do’s” of the day.I’ve claimed this as my time. Sacred, private, quiet. This beautiful, private peace belongs to me.
Why didn’t anyone tell me about this? And again, this sh*t is free.
I sat on my dock yesterday as the sun slowly inched down behind me. Feeling it’s warmth on my face and listening to the water lap against the dock, I was a kid back home at the lake. I was that lucky girl with all of it still ahead of me. The world was full of wonder, and as mine. This set me off on a road of reflection upon what my life has been so far.
I’ve been doing that a lot lately. Not with regrets, but in a wistful and wonderful way. Each memory, bitter or sweet an old friend fondly remembered.
The Long and Winding Road
The brilliance of Facebook is that through our community we rebuild and rethink those aspects and compartments of our lives that have been closed of for decades. And how they have converged to make us who we are. My Facebook “friends” comprise an eclectic pastiche of my life experience. My closest buddies, my lifelong friends, of course. But also those priceless connections to virtually every part of my history. Old friends from grammar school, high school and college, kids from the lake, connections and friends from the several stages of my career, long lost relatives, in-laws, outlaws, buddies from writing conferences and random travels. All of them cherished and welcome.
My Facebook has become a microcosm of me, an easy view into so many disparate, sometimes contradictory aspects of my life. And a reminder of how they all converged to shape me, and me alone. But I digress.
The point is,our life now is in full view. Laid bare. My history so accessible that it is easy to reflect upon where life and my choices have taken me. No, it has not been exactly what I expected, it never is. But it’s the one life I have made with the gifts I have been given. And in retrospect, it’s been just fine so far. It’s been a not-so-long and winding road, replete with a bumps along the way. But we push through and hopefully live to tell about it.
Why? Because it’s worth it.
We’re here! We made it. And we’re still standing.
We’re not as tough as we’d imagined ourselves, but we’re resilient well beyond what we thought we’d need be.
We’ve fallen down, and lifted ourselves us – sometimes with a little help from our friends, and sometimes when it could only be done on our own.
We’ve been tested and passed, persevering to learn lessons we could never have imagined.
By finding our way through the shadows, we’ve come to appreciate the light with fresh eyes.
We’ve lived through joy and celebration, loss and grief, through setbacks and failure.
And still we’re here.
And we’ve learned to align the bad with the good, knowing that the one only serves to amplify the other.
And to accept that more of both lie ahead.
We celebrate those who were cheated out of getting to the good stuff, and feel grace and gratitude that we have.
For our entire lives we look forward. We prepare for the next step. That’s what we do. As human beings, we hurl ourselves headlong at life, our eye on that next milestone, with nary a nod to where we are. We seldom pause to savor, reflect upon and love the moment we are in.
And then pow! Before we know it, it’s passed and disappeared like yesterday’s snapchat image.
This is not our fault. Call it cultural, personal or familial ethics, or just human nature. It’s something ingrained in us so deeply from childhood that is is an inescapable part of our DNA. My guess it was born of necessity like opposable thumbs. Woe to the caveman who didn’t prep for winter right?
Getting to The Center of The Chocolate Truffle
(Photo by Cynthia Howland)
The past few years have tested me in many ways. I am beginning to dare to believe I’ve passed that test. I have come (finally) to think of this period in my life as the lobster tail, squirreled away to be savored after the shells have been cracked, the work done, and the crappy green stuff left behind. It’s the center of the chocolate truffle that I savor until it melts away on its own.
So guess what? All that teen angst, the career anxiety, financial sh*t, the crap that kept us up nights, caused us to question our value, our being and our very existence? None of it matters now.
- Didn’t make it as the most popular kid in high school? Who cares. Be on your own top 10 list.
- Never had that long, silky, straight blonde hair like that b*itch that sat in front of you in class had? Be happy to have hair.
- Ditto on long tan legs. Thrilled that as of this writing, mine walk just fine. Hope yours do too.
- Marriage(s) didn’t work out as planned? An old platitude, I know, but “things really do happen for a reason.”
- Never had kids? Well–this one I do regret. But refer to platitude above. And I probably would have been a crappy mother anyhow. As in leaving them at the market, drinking wine at dinner, and not liking their friends. Besides, that is what the gift of godchildren is for. People who know you actually choose you, knowing full well your limits:)
Savor the Time, Savor the Wine
So all of this just to say – relax, rejoice. We are at a blessed and great place in life.Linger a bit longer over your coffee tomorrow. Sit in the quiet and reflect for a few minutes each day. Look at every sunrise like it’s the last one you’ll see. Learn to love the sound of your own laughter.
The next time a beautiful glass of cabernet sits in front of you, please: Sniff the glass. Savor the color. Swirl it slowly around in your mouth and expose every taste bud to it.
And for the love of God, drink the wine. Then just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Tomorrow is a new day. Why not live it in a new way?
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What are your thoughts on this phase of your life?
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