Are you where you expected you would be at this moment in life? We all dream as children where we’ll be at different times in our life. Those special milestones we set as markers to reassess where we are at, where we are going and if it’s time to make a course correction.
After we move out of our parents’ home.
After we finish our schooling.
When we get married.
When we have kids of our own.
When we need to evaluate our achievements as we pursue the success we’re aiming for.
When we retire.
And of course when we hit 21, 30, 40, 50, 60. . .
I was recently asked, “Don’t you think about where you’d be if your marriage had lasted?”
“What your practice would be like if you had built earlier?”
Milestones do that to us. Every holiday, birthday, anniversary, and other meaningful moment.
They remind us of what could have been. The shoulda, coulda, woulda’s. A dangerous path that often leads to self pity and becoming the victim. But in some respects they’re needed. A valuable reminder of where we started – our initial hopes and aspirations. They bring us back to a simpler time when all seemed possible. When shooting for the stars was a wondrous opportunity. Not making the attempt was the travesty. Not believing in ourselves and our future goals, the injustice.
As the milestones build up and we have more time behind us then in front we tend to buy in to the belief, “What’s the point? It’s too late.”
That’s what I heard when the two simple questions were asked about my own milestones. So here’s my response. There was a time when my marriage worked. As with all new beginnings, I had a vision of where I’d be when I celebrated my 50th wedding anniversary. A milestone I aspired to. But life happens and aspirations don’t always end the way we envisioned. I stopped thinking about that possibility a long time ago. It’s just a memory among many that were touched on, then let go when no longer a reality. It wasn’t easy.
Change is always a painful, arduous and hard fought battle, but I succeeded in understanding it was never meant to be. The past is where it belongs. Instead, I think about all I gained. From that marriage came my breathtaking daughter. A gift I will always treasure. From that marriage came a better understanding of who I am and the kind of relationship I really wanted and deserved. Not the Cinderella or 1950’s versions I had been fed.
Waiting 31 years to build my own office space initially seemed crazy to me too, at times threatening to stop my belief in its logic. Until I broke it down to this- why not? I love what I do, I have no intention of quitting in the near future so, why not? For me that question is usually the test something has to pass, regardless of where I’m at in the game. And yet there are times when the pros and cons just overwhelm and it’s down to your gut saying-“It’s time!”
Milestones are great. They show us the building blocks of our lives. Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing. The difficulties, strife, failures, elation, victories and triumphs. . .are the sum total of who I am. I’m not done, there’s much more to come. As the saying goes, “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “ Wow!” What a ride!”
My grandmother was the personification of this sentiment. She celebrated her Bat Mitzvah at the age of 83 (in effect her second, 13th year) and walked a few steps on the Wall of China at 85 after having had a mastectomy 5 years earlier. It may sound trite now, but it’s still as true as when it was first uttered-life’s too short not to live every moment.