Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do,
so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.
“Are you sixty?” the young cashier asked me as she rang up my produce.
“I will be in a few weeks,” I answered.
She nodded. “It’s senior discount day, today,” she said and smiled. “Just trying to save you some money. Hope I didn’t insult you.”
“Not in the least,” I reassured her.”Why should I be insulted by looking my age?”
That’s been happening more and more; clerks asking me if I qualify as a senior. I look in the mirror and see the lines of age now mapping my face. But instead of wishing (or Botoxing) the lines away, I look at my face as a testament to the many years I’ve been blessed to live. But I don’t spend too much time looking back. I’m looking forward to the years I’ve yet to live. And I’m going to live them to the fullest.
No matter what stage of life you are in, live the life you want to live. Ignore the naysayers who tell you that you can’t have what you want. You can if you are willing to create it. Here’s one way to do that. Make a list of what you love. Then from that list make a list of what you love the most. Those are the things to put your time and energy into keeping or acquiring. Those are the things that will help you to live a life you won’t regret.
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously.
And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
All day it snowed. I anxiously watched from my window as white blanketed the backyard, making the landscape look otherworldly. As the hands of the clock moved closer to the evening hours, my heart filled with disappointment. The big birthday celebration I had planned wasn’t going to happen. I called my friends and told them we’d postpone until the following weekend. I’m sure they could hear the frustration in my voice. I had planned an interesting evening of activities for us to enjoy. I had bought costumes, props, and I’d even written a short story to set the stage for our celebration. We were going to end our evening walking through Aspen handing out small gifts and sweets to strangers. But it wasn’t going to take place on my special day. I would turn forty-four alone, watching the snow fall. Funny, how sixteen years later, as I quickly approach my sixtieth birthday, I can still remember the emotions I felt that day.
Looking back, I see that what I was missing at that time in my life was the ability to be grateful. I didn’t understand that everything in my life was a gift. Even the things I didn’t like. Even the things that hurt. Even the things that frightened me. Now, having grown spiritually, I’m more able to sit with any disappointment and swaddle it in gratitude. It doesn’t take too long before my heart fills once again with peace and joy.
Gratitude is a response we learn how to cultivate through time and practice. Eventually, we learn how to hang out in gratitude far more than we hang out in disappointment. For disappointment is only fear in disguise; we’re afraid that we’ve lost out on something—we didn’t get what we wanted. Gratitude, on the other hand, reminds us that we didn’t lose anything at all—in fact, we’ve gained something instead, even if it’s only a new lesson or insight.
“All is known in the sacredness of silence.”
Whenever I’m confused or afraid, I remember these words: “Be still and know that I am God.” To be still means more than stopping our actions, it means to stop our minds, our internal voices, as well. For it is only when we are still, wrapped in the spaciousness of silence, that we can hear the answers we need. For it is only there that we can truly hear God. In the silence, we hear eternal wisdom rising above the incessant chatter of our worries and woes. In the silence, we are given the gift of God’s fullness.
It takes practice, this listening to silence. Our minds fight against the emptiness of thoughts and ideas, beliefs and ideals we cling to. But we can be kind and gentle with ourselves as we learn to venture deeper and deeper into silence, knowing that it takes time to learn this new way of being. It also may take time to be comfortable with the results of being silent, for when we are silent, we are changed. New paths, new ideas, new ways of thinking emerge. Our tight grip on the demands of our egos loosen and our hands and hearts open to all the goodness and abundance in God’s great universe.