It's getting closer. I woke up this morning and I could feel it. The ripe old age of 40 stalked me all day. Every thing I did reminded me of my age! All. Day. Long!
This morning, I looked in the mirror and noticed my skin doing a "new thing." (UGH!) Then I trimmed my beard and couldn't find all the trimmings on the sink because they were mostly white... they blended in with the counter top. (Sigh). Then, I tried to hang a picture and it made my back hurt. (#$@*)$!).
To top it all off, after work, I encountered a 21 year old who - when the subject of age came up - refreshingly observed (out loud) that I was old enough to be his dad. Then proactively added that I'm still young because his dad is actually 51. (*with gritted teeth* One does not need to qualify such things unless one was trying to be respectful of their "elders!")
In that moment, all the things I didn't get to do in my life - and the stuff I took (take) for granted - and the long bucket list of things left to do - all trampled across my mind in rapid-fire succession like a herd of buffalo on the run. It was like remembering that you forgot to pay your electric bill when the lights go out. <insert forehead-smack here>
Okay, so ... I snapped back to reality pretty quickly. I KNOW I'm not old. I'm far from it, really. But... it served as sort of an alarm bell and I had a new, distinct awareness that I should NOT hit the snooze button on that alarm. In fact, it felt like much more than an alarm. It felt like a wake up call.
While I probably have many, many wonderful years left, I have certainly lived long enough to gain some appreciation for the power and value of time. It makes more sense to "get on with things" than it does to delay anything - anything - longer than necessary.
So, instead of getting depressed (okay, I did for literally like two minutes... sue me!), I pulled my thoughts together and I started to list off some affirmations. Only, it was different this time. The affirmations took on the form of resolutions. I can honestly say that I was "resolved" to do things a bit differently. There was a completely new sense of purpose behind my thoughts that I haven't felt before.
All day, I found myself repeating things like, "Get out of bed when the first alarm goes off. Do the chores when I see they need done. Say "I love you" when the mood hits. Be silly when I want to. Take a break when I need to. Take vacations and try new things. If it isn't contributing to my life, get rid of it. Eliminate annoyances. Remove barriers. Do it now... whatever it is that I need to do."
Eventually these affirmations turned into; "Every experience had brought you to this moment. You're better at your job than you think. I can contribute to society. I don't care what others think of me. I deserve great things." And... so on.
You see... my thoughts snowballed into something better than I expected - almost involuntarily. I felt good... and had more of a sense of acceptance of where I am in my life, not to mention a sense of confidence about it.
And... here is the twist to this little experience.
This experience wasn't about getting old at all. The lesson I'm taking away from this is... I have actually retrained my brain to talk myself off of "pity ledges." How many times do we step out on the proverbial ledge - looking down at the world below and the tragedy of it all - with NO intention of jumping. We just sit there and have our "woe is me" moment. Then... we come off the proverbial ledge and feel like crap for the rest of the day (or longer).
I used to be that guy. I used to have to drag myself off the pity ledge. But... today... I never even contemplated taking the "woe is me" approach. I never even saw the ledge as an option. And, unless you're in MY head, you can't understand how HUGE that is. And... how incredibly validating that the things I've done over the past few years to FORCE myself off the pity ledge and to manufacture positive thoughts to retrain my mind - has WORKED.
Holy crap! IT WORKED!
Years... no, DECADES of getting LOST in the "what if's" and "poor me" mentality has been re-imprinted with self-affirming, positive actions.
And some people laughed at me - they actually LAUGHED at me. But it worked! (Take THAT you...you.. skeptics!) I feel like Doc must have felt when the time machine actually worked. It was like crossing the finish line of a marathon, or spending a lifetime hunting or treasure and finally finding the mother load.
And... I feel more empowered than ever to KEEP retraining my mind. How cool is that!? In fact, I feel like shooting for something greater and more lofty... like... like... some of those crazy ass dreams I have of writing a best-selling book. Maybe - just maybe - it's NOT so crazy to think that we, as mere humans, can tap into something greater than ourselves and change our OWN LIVES.
And best of all... maybe it's not insane to believe that this is just the beginning, and that the best is INDEED yet to come.