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I think as one grows older, the heart grows sadder as it recalls the many ways it had failed to lead its owner on a certain path. Regrets are for fools, people say, yet those regrets still linger as the only companion that has remained faithful to many throughout the years.
Don’t look back with regrets, but move on with hope.
Looking back, I can see that my own personal stumbling block was fear. Fear of the unknown, of what others might think or say, of being judged, of making the wrong decision. Sometimes we are just too hard on ourselves; we feel as if we have to get everything just right the first time or why bother at all? I didn’t realize that there was a lesson carved indelibly for me regardless of the path I took.
The irony is that out of all the choices that lay before me, I chose to play it safe and took care to never stray from my perceived path and to risk coloring outside the lines. As a result, I struggle to identify moments of personal greatness or achievement as a young woman.
Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it. – from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”
After getting momentarily sidetracked in my life and career, I think that I coasted through life for decades, wandering, existing and contributing very little substance to the world beyond my self-imposed inner circle. Life was monotonous, uninteresting and absolutely without challenge. Until I realized that living was a state of being – freely chosen by the one living it. So, if life sucked, it had a lot to do with the choices I’d been making.
There’s a saying, “Youth is only wasted on the young” for a reason. We imagine ourselves immortal, untouchable until we notice the fine creases in our once-taut skin, graying temples and the realization that middle age spread isn’t an old wives’ tale. We wonder how time could betray us when it is us who didn’t respect time. The clock will continue to tick regardless of the decisions that we make so why not make each one count for something?
Spend the time that you have wisely. Seek out the things that bring pleasure to you and through your good works, pleasure to others. We all have something valuable to contribute and it can be done at any age. I’m amused at how casually people declare that they will put off doing something off in the often too distant future as if it is a given that their breath would survive those dreams. The only certainty in life is the present; the here and now and even that is subject to change in the very next second.
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss
The beauty of making plans for the future is in knowing that those same desires can be achieved right now in the present. Dreams needn’t be relegated to some unknown or arbitrary time-frame. Once we put things on the back-burner, it becomes obscured by time and indifference until it is way out of sight and mind and all too soon, forgotten.
I am not going to pretend that getting to that point where goals are realized will always be easy, but there is one thing I can promise, there will be a great source of pride and accomplishment in its completion. To know that your success was forged by your own vision; your own hands – is its own reward and you are never too young to seek it. If you have the idea, the moment to implement it is now. Robert Frost’s classic poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay”, resonates the urgency of why we must not wait to pursue our dreams:
Nature’s first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
What have you been putting off that you know you shouldn’t?