Hubby and I celebrated his birthday and our 2nd anniversary this month. We managed to zip out of town for a quick road trip. As per usual, I printed maps and museum brochures and restaurant menus. The best moments of that trip were not any of the things I planned. It was the last minute, unplanned moments that started with “Ooh look! An old fashioned ice cream shop!” and ended with a walk on the pier in a seaside town and sticky hands covered with melted ice cream. It was in the closeness of talking in the car and laughing at each other’s jokes without the interruption of the TV or the telephone. The occasion was an excuse to get away but the celebration was in the recognition of my own happiness.
It got me thinking. There are few moments in life where we are happy and actually take the time to sit back and acknowledge it. We get so caught up in the celebration of occasions and the counting of milestones, that we forget to relish the journey. Just like marriage exists separate and apart from the pomp and circumstance of the wedding ceremony, life exists outside of the day to day. It resides in the moments. If we’re not taking time to relish those moments, we’re just moving through the days because biology and responsibility compel us to. Being alive shouldn’t be the focus of our joy only on birthdays just like marriage shouldn’t be honored only on anniversaries.
I have been on a roller coaster over the last year or so. Actually, I was on a roller coaster for the 6+ years I worked in BigLaw. Then I was on a long slide into hell…at least that is what I would have said if you asked me what my life was like shortly after losing my job. Then, something happened. I stopped focusing on what was wrong and started talking about what I wanted. Mostly, it was to know who I was going to be if I wasn’t a big firm lawyer. I spent so much time giving myself to my old job that I had little left for me and the people that I love. In those moments after I lost my job, all I had was time to give of myself and to myself. Eventually, things got better and now I am on a journey of my own choosing. Opportunities keep popping up and I keep taking them. My plate holds a heaping helping but I don’t feel a bit overwhelmed and I still manage to talk to hubby at night about everything (big life moments) and nothing (the commute, what’s on TV, etc.).
All of this hit me like a feather (that’s more pleasant…hit me like a ton of bricks seems so much more violent, right?) as I was frosting carrot cupcakes for hubby’s b-day. I felt really happy with my life in that moment, and for once, I said it out loud and (BONUS!) I was able to explain exactly why. I like my jobs and I like volunteering. I am happy with my marriage and starting to pick up the pieces of my financial near-disaster. Of course, there is room to grow and I am not where I thought I would be at this point in my life. Yet, everything says this is where I am supposed to be. So, I wake up because I want to (and God allowed me to) and not because my alarm went off or because my paycheck needs earning. The biggest lesson that I learned over the past year was to trust the journey. If I knew then what I know now, and could have given myself advice a year ago, I would have said: If you stop trying to control it, you will end up where you
are supposed to be. That’s not to say that it will be easy. It is to say, however, that even when it’s hard, ultimately, it will be ok. Keep moving ahead. Stop to relish the moments that make this long string of days into a life. Evaluate the baggage you carry on a regular basis. Drop the worn out hurts and disappointments as soon as you can. Heavy burdens are not yours to bear…and they make the journey so much less pleasant. When one thing isn’t working, lean on the things that are. If everything isn’t working, learn to lean on God. And then, just before the me of a year ago raised an eyebrow and said, “Spare me all the philosophical B.S.” I would have left it at that.