I woke up this morning wondering how I had gotten “here”. Here being a large metropolitan city thousands of miles from my home town. Here meaning being over sixty. Here meaning two divorces and two grown children. Here meaning two college degrees and several careers. Here meaning all of the experiences I have had that I could never have possibly imagined, growing up in a small town in the plains.
Life happens to us all. No one wakes up early one morning as a ten-year old and says, gee, in fifty years I will have seen Italy three times; I will have gotten married and divorced; I will have made friends in four different states; and I will have been successful financially and personally. If you did, I’d like to hear from you. Personally, I woke up at ten, jumped on my bike, went across the alley to Sue Sue’s, and found dead birds to bury in our animal cemetery in her grandparents’ yard next door. I might have organized my sock drawer (I did strange things like that), but most likely I’d have simply sat under those big elm trees and thought, I never want to go anywhere but here. Mama would call from the front porch for lunch and all the neighborhood kids would scatter. We acted out movies and TV shows in the front yard during the day and caught fireflies in jelly jars at night. I truly thought the world was static and would remain the same forever. Of course at ten you’re allowed some innocence and naiveté.
I don’t know about you, but if my memory serves me right, I have lived under at least twelve different roofs since I left home, counting apartments and houses. I’ve had four lovers, two marriages, two divorces and two children. (At least I’m serially monogamous.) I have had fourteen very different jobs that led to one true career and six jobs within that career. I have gained and lost the same ten pounds over and over again. I have traveled to at least fifty places, seen most of the U.S. and made three trips to Europe. I have owned eight different cars and have had my hair more than a dozen different colors, forget the numerous styles.
Shaking my head in dismay, I noticed a small faint feeling creeping up my spine. It felt a little like guilt or shame. It surprised me as I had anticipated feelings of excitement, surprise, even happiness at all that life had allowed me to experience, collect and enjoy. What came to me in that moment was a much larger question.
For the most part I have created my own chaos and there are days when I wonder if it’s become a pattern that I cannot break. At sixty I would like some “sameness”, some peace, some lack of movement. Buddhists call it Zen, to sit in quiet meditation, staying in the present moment, the in and out of breath. I take yoga sporadically to recreate this sensation of nothingness. No movement, no change, no chaos.
Recently I was asking advice on which shade of brown to paint the ceiling in the living area and my adult son said to his older sister, “Mom just needs another project.” I said nothing but later I had the need to go back and add up all those numbers again.
Life does happen; change is part of life; and yes, we sometimes get addicted to making change for change sake. But I have to ask myself this: What would happen if I simply stopped? Right here, in the middle of the road, in the middle of my life, right here, right now? What if I just sit down and quietly wait for life to find me?