Full disclosure… I stole this title. I wish I had come up with it, but I got it from a podcast I listened to this morning… twice! And I needed it… A few days ago I was helping a friend who is training to be a coach with some practice coach interviews and she was using me as a guinea pig. She asked the question – if I could wave a magic wand and you could have anything – what outcome would you want? And I knew what my immediate response would be – I wanted to be 10 years younger.
What now? After I wrote so much about the joys of reaching 40 and the wonderful lessons I learned? Well I will be honest – I did enjoy arriving at this age, and I still love the wonderful lessons that I learned. But I will also admit, it was slightly anticlimactic – something that I have been struggling with for the past few months, or at the very least put it into words. But as soon as she asked me that question – I found the words. Why you ask, would I want to be 10 years younger? Well in honesty – I feel as if life was so much simpler – less responsibilities all around. In addition, I feel as if over the last 10 years while the important people in my life seem to have leapt forward and into the lives they had planned for and dreamed about – marriage, families, promotions etc. It was as if the time we spent – travelling, socializing etc – was a step on their journey, but for me it was the destination. In fact for me I feel as if my dreams started to end as theirs began. I felt guilty because while I was happy for them for reaching their dreams, I was devastated because I felt as if mine were over. In addition, I felt healthy! I was training for a half marathon, and I was at the fittest I have been in my life. Even now, I can remember running for miles with the wind around my head, music coming through my headphones, feeling alive! I really felt as if I could set goals and achieve them. Now, I feel weighed down by external responsibilities that I don’t like very much, and I am exhausted. I made an effort to fit into my schedule activities and events that would bring joy and meaning to my life, and in part to counteract the drudgery I was feeling in all of the “necessary” things that I spent my time doing. I knew that my exhaustion was due in part to having an overcrowded schedule, but I didn’t want to remove any of the activities that I chosen to leave to remain a schedule filled with the responsibilities of adulting.
I left the session feeling very sad and dejected, as if my best years were behind me. When I fed this back to my friend a few days later, she suggested that she thinks we can feel vibrant at any age, but it may look different, depending on what stage we were in life, and it was important to decide what feeling healthy, good and vibrant would mean in each stage of life given our circumstances. Perhaps when I was 10 years younger, being healthy meant training for a half marathon, now it might mean going for a hike with family and friends. But the most important point was that we needed to accept our stage in life and our circumstances, and try to find ways to be healthy and vibrant at that time in life. I won’t lie – it wasn’t what I wanted to hear either! I definitely threw a teenage “strop” when she made that suggestion.
After stewing about it for a few days, I woke up this morning still feeling the cloud over me, and the tightness in my chest, when I found the podcast. One of the podcast presenters spoke about her journey, and said that what made the biggest difference for her, was when she began to believe that each moment was her destiny. She started to remind herself of this when she was in situations that she didn’t want to be in (these included severe illness, relationship breakdown and work stress) that these moments were her destiny and she really searched for things to enjoy in each moment, given that she could be nowhere else but in the here and now. After hearing her say it several times (please note – I listened to this twice!) I felt a shift, and I started to think to myself as I set out to do my errands – what if this moment was my destiny – what if it was the moment that I had lived my entire life for! What was happening in “this moment”? All of a sudden – I looked around me and it was a beautiful day! It was cool and breezy, the sun had just risen and there was an outline of the full moon still faintly visible in the sky. The sea sparkled blue and clear, with the sunlight glinting off of it. I had brought home a special toothbrush for my nephew, and he loved it, ripped it open and decided immediately that he NEEDED to brush his teeth. It was a good moment.
I won’t say it was easy. I definitely won’t say it was effortless. I can’t say I will be able to do it every day, and I can’t say that my entire mood has lifted and I am jubilant, but I felt as if, just for today, I could see a very small light at the end of the tunnel. The truth is – life can bring with it situations that we don’t want to be in. We can say – “you can’t choose your situation, but you can choose your response”, but sometimes that feels canned to me and impractical, especially when things feel heavy. There is the age old practice of gratitude, which really does work, but sometimes I don’t feel it, or it feels forced and false. So for me – on a day when none of the old remedies worked, I tried a new one – what if this moment is my destiny. What exactly is happening at this moment? And we can choose to live one moment at a time, and try to be a bit more present in each moment. I will let you know how my moments progress next time I post.
Until then, I send you big love from a small island.
PS - Here is a link to the podcast. The above photo I took as I have been able to once again go out and watch the sunsets!!!