Today marks 57 years that I’ve been trying to figure things out. Life is still a mystery to me.
I’m not one of those people who say they wouldn’t change a thing. There’s quite the list of moments when I wished I’d done something differently. 90% of those involve people—conversations I left too soon, friendships that drifted away, times I was too chicken to tell someone how I felt. At the time I usually thought the moment would come around again. It seldom did.
But for the most part I’m proud of my choices. Not getting married until I found a partner and not just an obsession may well be my biggest accomplishment. It wasn’t easy. I was 35 when D and I got married and I sucked at living alone. But that partnership has been the foundation for everything that’s come since. Quitting a good but boring job to live on the road was a high point. Again, it wasn’t easy, but it was the first step to the life we’re living. I loved being an artist, but I’m prouder of having the guts to know when that adventure had ended and it was time for the next. Writing makes me feel young again. I’m not an expert. Hopefully one day I will be, but it’s interesting to be back down on the learning curve looking up.
I resented getting older in my forties. Each year I felt like I was losing more than I was gaining. Now in my mid-fifties I’m more comfortable with who and where I am. I’ve done, or am working on, all those things I wished to do when I was a kid. I don’t resent my fifties. I think I’m harder on those earlier years—my twenties and thirties. I wasted so much of those twenty years. I know the answer is I wouldn’t be where I am now if I had gone through that time, but I’m not sure that’s true. I’d like to say I did the best I could at the time, but the truth is I was chicken. Life, people, and work all frightened me. I thought I’d get stuck in some life I didn’t want. It took all that time to figure out what I wanted wasn’t going to find me. I had to be more proactive at living. It’s a lesson I try to cling to so I’ll repeat it: be proactive at living.