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The Life We're Intended to Lead...

I'm working on a project for a friend. It involves typesetting a book with photos to self-publish... a book that was written by my friend's friend in her last year of life. Although the writer was sick, she was blessed with enough good days in her final year of the cancer to write with love of all her travels and fond memories, beginning with the earliest childhood experiences she could recall. Interestingly, she never completed the part of her life story from her cancer diagnosis (as if it were insignificant). And what a lovely celebration of a life to focus on the lived experiences, not dwell upon its ending. Her beloved life partner will treasure this book, and so will her friends and family. I have many hours left on the project... but it got me reflective.

This woman (and I did not personally know her) took every chance to live. When she met someone in another country and had a chance to go dirt bike riding, she seized it fearlessly. When she made friends at a bar, she'd go on a date with a guy she just met. These are examples of opportunities we may all be presented from time to time. Are you adventuresome? Would you just "go" and "do"?

I ponder a few times I engaged the unknown for a chance to experience. I was about 16 at the beach with my girlfriend and met a couple of guys who brought their Hobie Cat boat to the shore. They asked us if we'd like to go on the boat with them and we did. We ended up so fricken far from our spot on the beach, we got a little scared (I bet it was 25 miles)... so we asked them to take us back. They did. But I remember later telling my girlfriend that we were a bit stupid to run off like that... could have ended up dead, who knows. No I.D., just bikinis. Jesus. And really, since 16, I almost always made safer choices.

I traveled alot on business in the 90's. Just domestic. But I got to go to high end places like Scottsdale, AZ... Palm Springs, CA... and big cities like NYC and Indianapolis - with a corporate credit card and usually strapping handsome salesmen who looked out for me during the trips. Traveling at trade shows and being the marketing girl demonstrating products, meant lots of pick-ups. God, so many people f*ck around when they travel. I never did... and I had many times and enough wine in me I could've. But I staved it all off in favor room service if I didn't have a "group" dinner, and a good book I brought along on the trip. No regrets there. BUTTTT....

I could have gotten closer to the breath of the tigers in innocent ways... maybe engaged some interesting people -- sightseeing, dinner, and called it a night. I didn't ever want to give a message of availability, so even "just friends" type of approaches were rebuffed by me. Most of the women I ever traveled with thought I was crazy to miss opportunities to see and be seen as they all did. They were seasoned and cool. I was pretending to be seasoned and cool... and really very square.

I think if I were to write the story of my life, the pages of exciting travels and places and people would be mostly blank. And I ponder that with a tad bit of sadness. My stories would instead be of life lessons and things somewhat esoteric and philosophical... my observations, my contemplations, my angst, and my victories of the soul, the significance of children and love, and home and meaning of life -- perspective. I have lived more than half my life... and it has been a quest for knowledge and contributing in meaningful work, and of course, to love and give.

I'm sitting here wondering why I didn't go to Europe in college when it was offered... because something else called me here. I am sitting here wondering if putting all the money into my walls of home should have been disbursed into some business investments (there were plenty of chances)... or really risked some of the conservative employment choices I made when I had such an entreprenuial spirit and fearlessness back when. (as that song goes, "If I were a sculptor, but then again, No")

Maybe I should have ridden the Ferris Wheel instead of looking at the crotchedy old carney operating the ride and thinking it wasn't safe. Maybe I should have held myself out for greater things and not settled for safe.

And yet... being 46 (I think of myself as a young 46, perhaps even "stunted" for my youth was lost so early to work and home so early).... maybe there is still hope for me?

I probably sound like a classic case of midlife crisis.

There is so much stuff inside of me. So much passion and zeal and ambition. And I am frustrated.

My question for you is one you've seen before: If you knew you could not fail, what is it you would do?

Tell me.

And if you could look into a crystal ball and see your future.... what does it show you?

Are you hopeful?

Did you miss the boat?

Any regrets?




sheila222 said...

The questions you pose are interesting and naturally enough, questions lots of us ponder. I have always felt that I was born "old"- being responsible, pushing down disappointments, continuing to do the right thing (although if it is so right, why does it make you feel so bad?), supplanting your wants for others because to want things and to vocalize them means you are selfish. My husband has a philosoply of you can't love anyone if you don't love yourself and to a large extent I consider that sheer self indulgent bullshit. Yes, I wish I could know ahead of time which path was best, but knowing what I knew at the time of each momentous decision in my life, I would likely make the same choice again. They haven't all been winners. I wish I were more adventuresome, but I know that my personality simply isn't one that is, that part I accept.

If I knew I couldn't fail, I would still be a veterinarian- that is my life's professional passion and one I am glad I did even w/o practicing for long, and go to medical school and become a dermatologist (my skin is their retirement plan). I would be the person to write the textbooks. Some small part of that is realized in the Journal of the ACBA in which I write medical articles which someone has suggested be combined into a small book to be published and sold by the ACBA (what flattery! because most of what I say is,, I don't know but here is what I think!)

And finally, without too much drama, let me say that I try not to reflect upon my life too much. Some of it is pretty sad to me, and I have it so lucky and good compared to most.

Jilly said...

i hate to look back beyond finding the "teaching moment" or "lesson." my guy LOVES to second guess and waste time he doesn't have over "what ifs" like "what if we didn't buy a house we hate?" or "what if I didn't have a miscarriage?" or even "what if i didn't take a break in phd school?" or "what if i took a different job?" that's all dumb to me. i understand learning from past mistakes, but sitting and thinking about where life could have gone is a waste b/c you didn't go there and thinking about where you could have gone isn't going to lead you to where you want to go. there are night he drives himself nuts thinking about how fa along i'd be in my pregnancy, or of all the lovely houses we could be living in. he's getting better, but i'll never understand his need to imagine all the what-could-have-beens. all of his what-could-have-beens are all perfectly and wonderful without a problem in sight. the reality is that life is full of problems and choices, and no matter what choice you make, there's going to be problems. you gotta make the best choice you can at the time and deal with the fall out. the end.

mavis sidebottom said...

I am a creature of impulse I tend to do the stuff then think OOPs. did that myers briggs personality test I am apparently an ENFP you should do it youd enjoy the neve gazing aspect of the answers

Jilly said...

you know, i get a different score every time i'm forced to do the Myers-Briggs test. i guess it's a good tool of who you were at the second you took the test, like most tests, but i'm not sure about it's long term applications.

It was overly popular in the late 90s-mid 2000's to make people take the Myers-Briggs at corporate trainings in the name of making better workers. Then of course, after the personality tests didn't pay off for productivity, they switched to trainings that included team bonding through hours of pointless games, drum circles, and other humiliating and demeaning bullshit and called it "professional development."

you know, whenever i get the itch to go back to work, i sit and remember having to go to a professional development training where we all sat in a circle and drummed for 3 hours while the moron workshop facilitator set the stage on fire with incense. Then, the next day, we were rep remanded by the big boss b/c most of us were unable to complete an important project on time. He just didn't understand why we couldn't get the project done, as we'd been through all this lovely training and development all week that cost at least $10,000 in speaker fees. i guess it didn't occur to him that if you make all the workers spend all their time at work watching power point slides and playing at african drumming, then no one can actually do their work.

anyway, when i flash back to a burning stage and ohmmmmming while trying to make up buzz words to share with the group, i go to my happy place and am overjoyed that the hardest part of my day is getting my kid to eat her peas and choosing the close park and a happy meal or a picnic and the far away park. and people wonder why i never want to go back to work if i can avoid it....

doreenmary said...

Sheila, I didn't know you were a vet! Very cool.

Jilly, your guy sounds like a scholar I know (heh... moi) who looks at situations from every "what if" possibility. Hope his studies are going well.. God bless ya... he's lucky to have you.

Alex, I score an INFP although I have taken this test many times... and the E/I and P/J are so close in scores that I could be really either on those elements. Carl Jung is my favorite theorist... But don't get me started on pontificating on all that. Thanks for your post!

sheila222 said...

Doreen, gosh, I thought everyone knew. I graduated from The Ohio State University CVM in 1980, practiced for 4 years and then became housewife fulltime. I still keep my license but the only thing I work on now is mah pigs.

mavis sidebottom said...

I am a enfp no matter how many times I take the test no matter what mood Im in

Spidey said...

no regrets. i was brave and took chances and ended up with a happy life.

schell said...

I'm an ENFJ, and it seems to be right on the money! (thanks for the link, it was interesting)

Spidey said...

I love your playlist. Your song choices are great!


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