Patience has never been one of my virtues. My primary school years were a painstaking waiting game, as I counted down towards the commencement of secondary school. The lure of high heels, cosmetics and driving a car seemed so attractive, and more than justification enough to wish away my childhood (or so it seemed at the time). My teenage years too were an exercise in character building, as patience was still a frustration inducing state. I dreamt of a future. My future. Of an idyllic life that one assumes adults lead. The life where hundreds of dollar bills warm the interior of your purse, curfews without limitations, oh and lets not forget the idyllic fantasy of “Mr. Right”. In fact, so intense was my sense of restlessness and impatience that my parents dubbed me, “Miss I can’t wait”.
Fast forward another decade and you’ll find me as I am. With the house, husband, three beautiful children and an intensifying, overwhelming state of wanderlust in my heart. All the things that I have done, I have wanted to do. That is not the regret. The regret is all those missed opportunities. All the risks not taken. The dreams unrealized.
A few years ago, as I was working my way through the milestones of life a friend asked me, “What’s left of life to look forward to when the ‘to-do-list’ has a tick next to each goal?” Graduate from secondary school- check. Go to University – Check. Fall in love – check. Establish and develop a career- check. Buy a home – check. Start a family, maybe buy a dog – check. Pay off the mortgage – check. Retire – check. Die – check out!
It all seems so formulaic. Don’t get me wrong, these things are some of Life’s greatest blessings and treasures, however it is the monotony of all the time in between these highlights that has the power to extract much of the joy from the everyday.
This question, posed by my friend has never left me. In essence, she was asking, “When all has been done, what else is there to do?” Lottery-like-winner proud, (six years later) I’ve figured it out! That moment of epiphany. Life is not about the milestones, it’s about the memories.
Inspired by the film, “the Notebook,” a truth stone emerged for my life. (Love truth stones, a solid foundation right there to build on). That ‘wow’ moment when I realized that one day my life story will be more told than untold. More having been lived that there remains to live.
Now, before you jump to conclusions and think I’m driven by a morbid fear or motivation, I’ll clarify, because it’s quite the contrary. That moment when you’re old and grey, and your heart wants to bust a move on the dance floor, (with the Pointer Sister’s falsetto blaring in your brain, as your 80 year old memory sings “I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it), but your body is too frail. Well, it is that moment, and many others just like it when the story that you wrote for your life during your ‘able’ years will be re-read. Playing and re-playing your story line over and over in your heart just like Noah and Ally from The Notebook, and just like Jack and Rose in Titanic. And just like every elderly person, that given the time of day, will launch into a story from their glory days.
I want my story to be a visually stunning and colorful picture book, with enriched narrative, meaningful themes and characters of conviction. For this is the ingredients of a beautiful novel or film. Mine, and yours can be too. For that is what this Life is. A story of highs, lows and memories. Not milestones.
So where does that leave us with the milestones? Do them (obviously). Love them. Embrace them. Cherish them. And when its all completed (which for me is now-for the most part at least), I am choosing to do the things that scare me. To take chances (I’m writing a blog right – scary!). To dream. To explore. To look for opportunity, and to say ‘yes’ more. In doing so, I’m discovering that the world isn’t in fact flat at all. I’ve gone to the edge of what I know, and now have fallen into the abyss of the unknown. This was and is my introduction into a world of wanderlust. A world of vivid memories, of weekends with family and friends, of searching for the light of new in an old place, and it is a story that will be played on repeat when my legs are too frail to follow where my heart longs to go.