Two Lessons A Year
A year ago I was sitting here writing about all the stuff I wanted to learn in the twenty years I figured I had left in my life. If I was right, and I’m always right (in my mind, anyway), I now have nineteen years left.
Did I learn enough this year?
I’ve learned that math doesn’t always work. Taking care of two dogs is five times harder than taking care of one dog. But also, two dogs is six times more love than one dog. So I am one dog ahead of the game.
I also learned a lesson about friendship that I am astonished I had not already learned by now.
Sometimes we make friends out of convenience. We want someone to have a chat and a cup of coffee with. And we find someone close by, with a similar schedule to ours. And bingo! – instant friends. And that’s fine. But sometimes we are so happy to find a new friend that we don’t pay enough attention to whether that person is really a good fit for us. So we are eventually surprised to be having coffee dates with folks we don’t really like all that much.
But that’s not the main lesson here.
I have also learned: It’s okay. I don’t think having some conversation over coffee always needs to be exquisitely meaningful. Not everyone has to be your soul-mate to have a place in your life.
And that’s about it. One year. Two lessons.
And coming up?
Ah, that’s the big question.
Because the next birthday is one of those huge ones. A milestone birthday. I am 69 now. And next year at this time I will be 70.
So if there is anything I’ve ever wanted to learn/accomplish/experience before I turned 70, I have one year left to do it.
I don’t want to put pressure on this old body and brain. If I accomplished two things this past year, I reckon I can do two things in the coming year.
But what? I don’t want to skydive or run a marathon or even read War And Peace.
But I do want two things that will be my own marathon… my own jumping out of a plane… my own saga.
First, I want to finish my third novel. I started it more than a year ago, but didn’t get far. I’ve written two books. Two books in seven years sounds like quite an accomplishment. And it is. But it is also two books in 69 years. I think perhaps I can do three in 70 years. The end result may not even be worth publishing – who knows? – but I want to see it through. If for no other reason than I want to find out how that crazy story ends.
Second. Well, this is the big one. I want to find the delicate balance between being nice to everyone and telling people what I want.
This has always been difficult for me.
I am a nice person. I am nice to everyone. All the time. And I am happy to be nice. I want to stay nice.
But I also want to be nice to myself.
My life is like a seesaw where the “nice to everyone” side is a big giant guy of 300 pounds, sitting stubbornly on the ground, while the “saying what I want” side is an underweight little urchin hanging onto the top of the seesaw, knowing that she will either be up there forever or will come down in a terrible crash.
So far, I have stayed up there, high in the air, being nice to the big brute so I don’t come crashing down. Never asking, “Please, what about me?”
But I think I am ready to balance this damn seesaw of Life. I think I can be nice and still ask for what I need.
I am giving myself one year to figure it out.
When I am seventy, I will be officially old. I want to be a strong and kind old lady. I believe I’m almost there. I’m only a year away.
PS. Every year on my birthday, I post an unretouched selfie. The purpose, as I have been stating for eight years, is twofold –
To say to the world, “Getting old isn’t so bad.”
And also to say, “Screw you, Mother Nature. I’m NOT QUITE OLD.”
Today, this is what 69 looks like.