12 January 2010
A colleague of mine will celebrate her 35th anniversary working for the Corps of Engineers tomorrow. Thirty five years.
I turned forty years old a week ago.
Next week I will have been working in plan formulation for the Corps for three years.
My wife and I celebrated five happy years together last Friday. And we have been married ten years. (That was a joke. A JOKE, guys.)
All of these celebrations, coming as they have in short order, have made me think about the milestones in our lives, and about the expectations that come with them. Did you accomplish what you wanted to in your thirty five years of labor for the Federal Government? Did I complete my dissertation by the time I reached forty? Have we traveled to the places Kathe and I dreamed of when we got hitched? Do I understand the process well enough after three years to be comfortable with my decision making?
We humans use milestones to help us reflect, to look backwards, and to evaluate. It is a positive thing to note accomplishments and see where we our plans have come to fruition. But I have also found myself a little discouraged recently. Fortunately, a friend pointed me in direction of a new blog this week... written by a woman who suffered the death of her seventeen-year old daughter and the death of her marriage in a six-month span. The theme of the blog is "Do Over" (www.thelifeilove2010.blogspot.com). She sees the new year as an opportunity to make changes in her life - a real honest-to-goodness 'do-over' - the kind we used in kindergarten when the sun was in our eyes and we missed the ball. She brings an upbeat approach to a time in her life that would bring just about anyone down. She, however, is goal-oriented and focused and.... happy.
She confesses to having the sad times, but is determined not to let the sad times define her.
One of the continuing themes in my writing is perspective. I tend to get wrapped up in the stresses of my life, whether the dissertation, the research, the job, the marriage, the teaching, or whatever among the thousands of things that are competing for my attention, and focus on the details of the stress (I even took a break while writing this to deal with a minor project related crisis, and got so frustrated that I punched the chair....). What I then find is that once in a while, I see a picture or a vignette of someone's life that reminds me of the larger picture - what is really important in this life. Helping others. Acting with compassion. Pursuing justice. Doing work - with my own hands - that I can be proud of. Singing. Smiling. Forgiving. Loving.
So I dropped the ball on all of these things. And now that I have missed the ball....
Do Over! I think I'll start today.