I am generally not bothered by birthdays. I tend to see getting older as just a different set of opportunities and I haven’t been worried in any significant way about the proximity of 50 as I turn 49 in a few weeks, but something shifted this morning.
Yesterday, I spent a good deal of the day scanning slides and old photographs into the computer. These images captured moments from my army days or just before and I was reminded how very young I really was then. I can’t believe how much responsibility the military gave a woman barely old enough to vote, someone whose parents still wanted her in by midnight when she was already 18. Going from grumbling about a midnight curfew, to rushing down to the motor pool on alert at 3:00 am before getting my M-16 rifle from the Arms Room was a shift of substantial proportions.
Sometimes I forget how significant that time period that was when I think back to the decisions that led me to where I am now. Looking back at those photographs, I see a young woman… still a girl in many ways, jumping into the water with barely a look to see how deep the level or even a pause to test the temperature. I’ve always been someone ready to take a chance, but seeing all the people and places in pictures yesterday made me go back to memories I’d packed away..many of them shut away in a small box of slides I’ve been moving from place to place over the years. I found myself reflecting with sadness at times about some of the decisions I’ve made over the last 30 years and I am amazed how easy it can be for both regret and gratitude to share the same space.
It’s good you don’t know everything when you’re 18, but I do wish I’d had a better understanding of one thing back then. It’s a simple concept that took me years to get…that a moment lost is really gone forever. I still struggle with letting go of worry about the future and even worse…looking back at things I wish I’d done differently. It sounds trite and we hear it all the time, this talk of living in the moment, being present in your own life, but it is a common theme and one which has been illuminated by a variety of quotes for hundreds of years. I’ll leave you with the one that makes the most sense to me this morning. If you have one you’d like to share, I hope you’ll take a minute to leave it in a comment.
We crucify ourselves between two thieves: regret for yesterday and fear of tomorrow.