you are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
— cs lewis —
i recently went through a breakup that i wouldn’t necessarily classify as bad, but more of a sad breakup. we found each other by random chance when i didn’t even know i was looking for someone. an instant connection that had me thinking soulmate material, so when things ended i was pretty devastated, i’m not going to lie. in order to get over my mental need to over analyze everything in painstaking detail, i decided on an impromptu road trip to visit my family for a week in sunny iowa with my best friend, and overall menace to society, ruby. 1,320 miles of open road to think about anything but my self proclaimed dramatic life back in boston wasn’t the worst idea in the world. and lord knows i have had plenty of those…
driving and being alone with only your thoughts and no one else to talk to really forces you think and focus on what’s ahead. i had already had my share of sadness over the past weeks so my mind drifted to other random things, like how quickly time moves on, whether you want it to or not. imagine if we could just live in a certain moment forever? laughing with someone you love and enjoying that perfect glass of wine watching an amazing sunset. i want to go back. why can’t i go back? it’s a difficult reality when you realize that amazing sunset you watched is the end of just another day and there is no promise for the same perfection tomorrow. time marches on, life goes on, and the only thing you can do is believe the best things in life are still ahead of you.
as i crossed the mississippi river after countless hours of driving and inched closer to my family home, i started to wonder how many times i had made this same drive before. all those trips from college in pennsylvania, the times i drove from new york city and now 21 hour trips from my apartment in boston racking up tens of thousands of miles over the 18 years i have been gone. has time really passed so quickly? man, i feel old. what am i doing with my life, anyway? is it too late for me to start a new dream? a new career? a new romance? new passions? oh god, the panic is setting in and the only companion i have with me is snoring loudly in the backseat and is of little use.
i put the pedal to the metal flying down interstate 80 desperate for someone to return my mind to normalcy. i mean, 37 isn’t that old, right? RIGHT?!? soon enough i rolled up to my parent’s driveway with enough bags to move in for six months (fun fact, dogs require more luggage than humans. i had one bag, ruby had three) and immediately made some quality time plans with my grandmother and little sister. after deciding on some wild thursday night activities that included going to dinner to probably watch the cubs and then to target afterwards, the conversation took an interesting turn when my sister mentioned her ten year class reunion was this year and how old that made her feel (she will be 29 later this year). feeling like she was reading my mind based on my inner thoughts throughout my journey west, i immediately chimed in that my 20th was next year, also exclaiming how old i felt in the most dramatic voice i could muster. but not to be outdone, my grandmother put us in our place and said her 70th was just around the corner. this conversation definitely is not helping.
we continued talking and as we reminisced about anniversaries of the past, both memories of love and loss, i started to think about my grandmother who is an all around badass who still lives on her own (and never remarried after my grandfather passed away back in 1986), still drives herself around the mean streets of indianola, meets up with friends for card club and lunch (she was a part of a red hat society that is now defunct and is now a lunch gathering instead, in case you were wondering), goes to church every week, texts (and bitmoji’s) away on her iphone, and is always there whenever i come visit, even on a day’s notice. she has lived an amazing, long life and out of the three of us had less complaints about getting older. how is that possible? in fact, she was telling me a story about how my own father asked her how she does everything she does and her response was as simple as they come, “because it needs to be done and i’m still here and able to do it”. she’s exactly right, you should never just sit around waiting….for anything. get up, get out, and go do it because even when you may think it’s too late and it’s easier to just give up, it’s not. it’s never too late.
thinking of the years that have passed and what you’ve done with that time can be both a happy trip down memory lane or a nightmarish reality that you are getting older and maybe you should be doing more or have done more. how do you really know how to gage this? i mean, my grandmother finds happiness in the life she has lived and in all of the small things and the people that still surround her. everyone goes through shitty times in their life, but it’s what you do the days after that define who you are. there are days when my tears tell me to stay in bed, but then there are more days when i think to myself, you’re a badass bitch and you can do anything you set your mind to. days go on, people get older and if you don’t move on, enjoy the present and look forward to the future, your neck is going to be awfully sore from looking back over your shoulder for the rest of your life wondering what might have been.
i went to sleep that night thinking a lot about my situation, my goals, my life, who i want to surround myself with, and what makes me happy and decided then and there that there is no time like the present to enjoy what and who you have in your life, to chase your dreams, to become the person you want to be, and most importantly, to be happy. there is a whole big world out there and it’s just waiting for the best version of yourself to join it. if you’re constantly living in a state of complication, uncomplicate your life. things are never as complicated as they seem, it’s your mind that muddles everything up and makes it that way. one of the benefits of getting older is that clarity supersedes other things and problems become easier to solve because you have the experience to solve them. you never know when you’ll get another chance or whether you will have another opportunity so if you know what you want, and if you want it badly enough, then you go after it. don’t sit by and let time and life pass you by. it’s really that simple and it’s really that uncomplicated.
i’ve been around the emotional block in my 37 years and while my grandmother’s advice speaks true to me, the best advice i could ever give anyone is to not let fear, pride, your past, stubbornness or an easy way out control your life and be the reason you make decisions. life is hard, making decisions and choices is a difficult proposition and you’re definitely going to take some punches. you’ll get knocked down and want to give up and take the easy way out because it’s fucking easy (hence the name), but there is so much good, happiness, love and support that surrounds you, and all you have to do is open your heart, your mind and your eyes to it. the universe is omnipresent and constantly showing you the way, but it’s up to you to make the most of it. signs are there for a reason, to tell you to stop at the intersection, not to speed, or that the road is icy, but they are also there to show you that everything happens for a reason, so fight for what you believe in, for what you want and for all the happiness in the world. the best part of life is that it’s not planned out for you, you get to decide what you want and what you don’t want. for me, i want adventure, but a sense of home. i want love, happiness, laughter, good friends, amazing food and wine, and a kind of fulfillment that money can’t buy. i want all of that and i know i have the ability to get it, which means i am a fighter. if i am fully invested, i am 100% in. i can see the light ahead, and while i am not perfect, i can take constructive criticism because that is how you truly grow as a person. if you’re not always learning something about yourself you will never fully exist.
being scared to disappoint someone or yourself shouldn’t stop you from taking chances. life is short and as you get older you realize you don’t need a set of promises to be happy, because there never is going to be a promise for tomorrow. as sad as that can be, there is good news though. there is always hope and trust that there will be a tomorrow, that’s why we keep doing what we’re doing. that’s why we jump in fully and not just put a toe in to test the waters. don’t be a toe person, be the person who doesn’t give a fuck and puts yourself out there for the world to see. being vulnerable means you’re real. being real means you’re living. i’m a big fan of james bond and the villain in the world is not enough said it best, “there’s no point in living if you can’t feel alive.” so what are you waiting for, an invitation? life favors the bold, do something unexpected today.