Looking back at my life I can see that for most of it, I was in a rush, impatient to experience the next thing. For example, I was so voraciously hungry when I was a baby that mom couldn’t feed me fast enough. I have my own family legend which describes me inhaling a spoonful of food then throwing open my mouth for the next life-saving bite. Imagine a starving baby bird! I was happy but in constant motion. It must have been exhausting for my parents.
Yes, my irrepressible delight for living showed up right away. In my one year old photo I was so excited about the photoshoot the photographer gave up trying for a still shot. My hands, tightly clasped over my belly, would not stop pumping up and down, most assuredly an early warning sign.
Just before I was to start Kindergarten my body broke out into a smelly sweat that required a Dr’s visit. But it wasn’t because I was worried. It was because I was so excited to go to school. It took a long time to learn the difference between excitement and worry.
When I was 10 years old Mom and Dad put me on a Greyhound bus to Seattle to stay with my aunt for a while to help with my five little cousins. I was not in the least worried about travelling alone, and if mom and dad had concerns, I was oblivious. What I was most excited about was the bus ride and my Aunt’s nail polish collection, brilliant colours all lined up on her dresser. It was good action.
This love of adventure followed me through my teen years as I embraced every opportunity to try something new. When I turned sixteen I got a part time job, my driver’s license and a car, all in short order.
At the same time my first boyfriend Bob, or friend Bob as mom called him, used to pick me up on his motorcycle every Friday night for dinner at Boston Pizza and then a movie. He taught me how to play the guitar, for which I am grateful, but once I mastered being a biker chick it all became boring. To this day, save me from routines and repetition.
My next crush was a young man called Mike, who I met on one of my visits to Seattle. He lived next door to my aunt, and was a university student. He taught me how to play the drums. I was still in high school at the time and couldn’t understand why my parents would not let me go visit him at his home in Michigan the following summer. Instead my best friend and I took a three week train trip across country to Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City, and for the time being, I was satisfied.
When I was too impatient to finish University I took off with my one love, Pierre, to live in a trailer on an orchard in Naramata. It was the end of my parents’ attempts to influence my decisions or contain my passions. I remember my Dad wondering what he would tell the neighbours, as if I cared. The picture he took of Pierre and I driving off in his little green Fiat came out in black and white, even though it was a colour film. I’ve always wondered about that.
Imagine living in a 100 square foot trailer in the middle of an orchard, with the one you love, picking ripe fruit in the morning to stew up for toast. It was bliss, until after a while I felt the old urge to do something new. Unfortunately Pierre was not in a rush, happy to just be. Oh what I now know!
Shortly after my dream time in the orchard, I became a travel consultant and my need for adventure was once again satisfied. Next, marriage and babies grounded me for a few years, but caring for my two little humans and mentoring them to be their best adult selves, was, and is my most satisfying undertaking. I say this in the present because in my experience, it’s only at the grave that parents can sign off. I think of my 88 year mom here and smile. Of course the job of parenting never becomes boring, especially when the kids have their own kids.
As I look back over the years I can see myself at many thresholds, some easy to cross, some not, some happy, some not. But with every change there was always a new beginning, a way to reset. Somehow I pulled myself forward, usually with blind faith, and sometimes with a sword and shield, plunging headfirst into the battle. On one occasion my grown up daughter told me I was fierce at times, back in the day. I told her she should be glad I was.
Now in my 60’s, my natural born joie de vivre has been tempered by big lessons, and satisfaction arrives differently. My stamina is not quite the same or my risk tolerance. I’m better at paying attention to my gut instead of overruling it, and I dare say that will keep me on this planet not only a bit longer, but also without so much drama. Perhaps if I had been less spontaneous with earlier decisions some catastrophes would have been avoided. But meh. It’s all part of who I am now and I own it all.
I don’t look back anymore except to appreciate the joys and the lessons and to congratulate myself for the wins. And I’m wiser and more discerning so outcomes are better! Thankfully each of us is different, yet I believe everyone has an innate joie de vivre unique to their own personalities. I’ve certainly become acquainted with mine!
For me, the next threshold approaches. It feels as if I’ve travelled right up to a new line and am ready to step over it. Considerable navel gazing got me there, to be sure. Lately I’ve noticed familiar confusion and excitement return, keeping me off plumb just a little. But life has taught me this heralds a new beginning so I can just allow the excitement to build without concern. What will it be? I’m as thrilled as I was as a 5 year old waiting to open presents, and will be happy to share in future posts.
Along the way I’ve had the chance to learn the difference between a threshold and a precipice. For a long time I was on the precipice, especially after my marriage dissolved. Both are edges, have endings and represent change, but at the precipice, peering down a bottomless, black tunnel, with no hope, it feels like the end. If this is you, bless you. Please reach out.
If you are feeling low, instead of looking down, look up. Notice your lips curl skyward as you do and sense your mood lift. Our friend Bob Newhart once counselled a patient focussing on her misery to STOP IT!” I hope his short skit improves your spirits. Take that one laugh and let it make a difference. Know that one laugh can lead to another, and a game-changing shift in perspective. One day does make a difference.
Today, even though it’s December, I see cherry blossoms in my mind’s eye, and imagine crisp fresh air plunging down my windpipe. This is my magic tonic, to imagine the good.
So I say “LOOK UP” (not down), or at least the other way, and feel the subtle shift. Your own brand of joie de vivre awaits.
I love you all. Best wishes for joy in the holidays and throughout 2019
Here is a previous posts on joy.
Please scroll all the way to the bottom to leave a reply. I would love to hear from you.