Life in these last few months has been about choices for me. It always is, of course, for all of us but we can go for months or years without being conscious of making choices. We drift into decisions, we are pulled toward them or pushed. We react, stepping back into a decision or running headlong into one, without being aware that we are in charge of what we do and where we go and how we behave.
It’s one of those lessons I wish you could learn just once and never forget. Because I know I learned it many times in my first half century of living. But life isn’t like that. We can’t get every lesson tattooed on our forearm where we’ll see it every day and be reminded of our already acquired wisdom.
All of that is just a long way of saying – we have choices. We make them. And it can be a joy.
Since leaving my career in journalism, I’ve made so many choices consciously – little ones and big ones. The days – not all of them but many of them – have been filled with microjourneys here and there, steps taken forward and back, good decisions and bad ones, but conscious ones.
I can sleep in, but should I? I can work extra hours, but is that the best use of my time? I can work off a to-do list and feel accomplished or I can let a day unfold and drift through it, enjoying the gentle breeze blowing me here and there.
I feel rich in a way I haven’t often felt. I feel a little guilty about feeling rich. About having choices, about not working 50 or 60 hours a week. About being my version of lazy.
Please don’t read this and assume I’m retired or working only part-time. That’s not really in my spirit. But I am consciously working around 40, which is still nearly half of what I was several months ago.
And, with all that free time, I’m remembering to choose to work, to choose to smile at people, to choose to be grateful for what I have.
A friend recently told me she asks herself, “If this was my last day on earth, would I be doing this?” and she pares down her comings and goings and commitments based on that question.
It’s a good one.
If this was my last day, I would be writing this column. I would be washing sandals my daughter wore in a swamp a year ago and bagged up to contain the smell. I would be scheduling a water safety class for the Emerald Coast Fitness Foundation. I would say sweet stupid things to my bearded dragon rescue and to the bearded dragon my oldest daughter left in my care for the summer.
I would exercise. I would walk, even if it’s raining, because I still can, and the older you get, the more of a gift movement becomes.
I would cross some things off my list and ignore other things.
I could have done all of these things while working many more hours, but I didn’t. I got lost, pulled out to sea in a rip current of demands. I got tired.
I’m doing them now.
Wendy, your article speaks volumes to me! After leaving my hectic fastfood mgt career, I’ve also found myself relishing my newfound freedom of choice. Enjoy your time of freedom to choose! I am