In my mind, there is a well-traveled road that leads from the highs and lows of my past, to the unknown that is my future. Somewhere in the middle, in the present, is the only true resting place. However, far too often it is the hardest place for me to stop. The road sign pointing to the past seems to appeal in times of question and regret. Times when I wonder if where I am is where I’m supposed to be, or if the wrong turn, years ago taken, forever paved the wrong road. Yet, the one pointing in the direction of my future appeals to the excitement, the wondering of what is to come. It grabs my anxiety by the hand, and becomes the truest of running buddies, sprinting me so fast towards the next chapter that I completely disregard the present. I forget to stop and smell the roses, or, whatever it is they say.
We often times find ourselves talking about past experiences, past relationships, past decisions. Sure, these things define us. If we have a relationship that was bad, or difficult, or even good, but, just not the right timing, those people and those relationships still helped in creating the person we are now. Alas, we probably shouldn’t just forget them all together, but, how much do we truly share, and continue to share in our future personal relationships? We are supposed to be open books, right? But, once the book has been read, how many more times are we supposed to read it? Do we read, and highlight, and study, and go all book club with our girlfriends to determine every missing piece? Or, does that in turn define that person as the person they were then, in that relationship, rather than the person they are now? If we overcome those pieces of us, isn’t it almost like we really should be introducing ourselves as the people we are rather than the people we were? I believe in sharing situations when habits are introduced that require explanation. But, how much should the old us be present in the new? Or, do we truly ever change? I think so. Take the divorcee, the previously abused, the unfaithful, the cancer survivor, the one that grew up in poverty. All these people changed into different versions of themselves, whether by choice, or by circumstance. Some of them so broken that they fell into what felt like pieces on the floor, but, eventually put themselves back together; the same person, but different. Stronger. More determined. So, do these people continue to carry themselves as the newer version, placed back together, even sometimes noticeably…or do they continue to introduce themselves as the person before the heartbreak, the disease, or the wealth? It gets sticky.
Flipping that around, what about those of us who live so far in the future that we forget to experience the now? I’m guilty of being that person. A lot. More than I care to admit sometimes. I’m thirty one years old, never married, no kids, starting a completely new career. Shouldn’t I at least have one of these things together? Shouldn’t I have something so good at this point that someone wants to look at me with envy? I’ve done everything right, so why am I still here? Still stuck? In looking back, I’ve been a different person in the past. I’ve been split into many pieces on the floor, and, just as the others, I’ve overcome it. Stronger. More determined. More aware. The word success is defined so differently by so many different people. I know I’ve shard my thoughts on it before, but, I truly define success as the achievement of both time and value. Time management. Time for healthy relationships, healthy lifestyle, new experiences. And I live that. Right here in the now.
Whenever I stand back and look at my life, leaving aside the stress or confusion of the past, and the anxiety of the future, I realize that my present is pretty darn amazing. One, in fact, that a lot of people would kill to have. I hold a great relationship with all of my close family. My “kids” might not yet be my own, but I get to be the world’s greatest aunt (what? I can say that!) to my nieces. I get to be a good example, and a role model to my littles at school. I have healthy personal relationships. I’m confident in knowing that I care deeply for those that I love, and that I would never be a hesitation to call if they needed anything. I take care of myself, I experience.
Life paints a weird map. For me, there is a constant back and forth. Even in knowing that the present is good, the past and the future often times empty my tank. Maybe finding the amount of “vacation” time we are allowed in each of the two is the true answer. Or, maybe there’s not one. Despite it all, I choose to be happy in traveling my road.