I hear the ticking of the clock
I’m lying here, the room’s pitch dark.
Do you ever wonder whether life has passed you by?
I have a confession. I’m 57 years old. No, that’s not the confession. The confession is that sometimes the ticking of the clock gets very loud. I mean, how much time could I have left, right? Maybe 20 years? Yes, it’s possible I could live for another 40 years, but I worry what my quality of life would be. There’s a reason why you see stories on the news of 90-somethings that are still working or still volunteering or whatever. It’s because there aren’t that many 90-something that are doing anything!I actually tried to look to the 2016 presidential race for inspiration. Yes, I know that sounds crazy. But the reason is because we had two near-70-year-olds running a hard-fought and exhausting campaign for one of the most difficult jobs in the world. That gave me hope.
After 40 years of working, I’m not contemplating retirement. While I’d like to have more free time, I honestly have no idea what I would do all day if I wasn’t working. I have finally, finally started doing the work I’ve wanted to do my whole life: professional writing. And I’m happy about that. But I sometimes allow myself to drift into the realm of “what if?” What if I had been working as a writer for the last 20 or 30 years? How different might my life be?
I recognize that’s pointless. But facts are stubborn things and here are some facts: I could have stayed in the government job I started as a senior in high school and served my 30 years and now be drawing a pension. I could have managed my money better and have a home that’s paid off. I could have dedicated myself to getting in shape right after the birth of my second child.
Yes, those are facts. Here’s another fact: I can’t do a darn thing about anything that’s happened in the past. I can wish I had done things differently, but there are no do-overs in life.What there is, however, is the opportunity to wake up each morning and make today different. I can look to the lessons of the past to teach me how to better navigate my future.
Has life passed me by? Well, all I know is I’m still alive, I’m still sitting here writing, I still have a pretty good life. The other thing I know is that I must continue to put one foot in front of the other, even if it sometimes feels like I’m not getting anywhere, even if there are the occasional two (or twenty-two) steps backward.
When my father was a little older than I am now, he decided he wasn’t going to work anymore. He applied for his Social Security and parked himself in a chair. He is the only person I knew who watched gavel-to-gavel coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial.
As I write this, he is still living. At least his body is still alive. He now spends his days watching Fox News and dozing in his chair. He’s alive, but really he hasn’t lived in a long time. I’ve often told people he is a good example of a bad example. (Update.)
So, I will plod along. If, while I’m making my way through the second half of my life, others pass me by or opportunities pass me by, so be it. But I won’t stop. I won’t park myself in a chair and watch while life passes me by. I am not the fastest runner, but I’m not ready to quit the race. #WednesdayWisdom