As I’m mid-life I’ve been thinking about being older. Not necessarily in a horrible kind of way, just what seems to be coming with age. The constant low back aches, the forever tiredness, and the fact that I’m now taking a multi-vitamin and iron pill daily… Not to mention the irreversible affects of bearing children.
Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness. – Proverbs 16:31
On top of the daily VISIBLE reminders… The grey hairs, the permanent wrinkles, the veiny hands and dark circles under my eyes.
young me with my high school bestie.
me mid-life. My beauty peaked somewhere inbetween.
I’m not ashamed about getting old, it’s a process – getting older. It’s like any life. Just as a beautiful rose blooms from a tiny bud, becomes stunning and eventually withers and dies, so too is human life. I think the problem with humans, however, is our clinging and constant wondering about when we were at our peak… Or if we missed our peak… Or if we WILL miss the peak. Unfortunately our mental peak doesn’t line up with our physical beauty so it’s sort of a colossal joke. Youth being wasted on the young isn’t just a saying, it’s a fact.
So now I sit here, and I know some of you do as well, and I do wonder about my own mortality. You read about those people in peak shape that die of a freak heart attack.. Or someone who died in a car crash with young children at home. I don’t walk in worry but these things DO happen.
So it makes me revisit this idea of a “bucket list.”
I have one, I don’t know how common it is to have one. I actually have one hand written. On it is a small list of about 10 things. They get scratched off as they happen and the list grows as well. As time goes by some of the items get removed because the allure of them disappears.
But this idea of a bucket list can be dangerous. So many people save up so much stuff for when they retire. They wait until some magical day when their mortgage is paid or they work their last full day of work or they get that inheritance to do their bucket list.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:33
I’m related to a beautiful and mystical woman. She isn’t attracted to riches of this earth and has always sought fulfillment from within and knew she had God-given talents and honed in on them. She’s an artist, both a painter and a photographer.
She approached life in a smart way. She constantly worked on her art and for her job she worked at the Art Institute of Chicago. While her job was an administrative one, she surrounded herself with what she loved.
She longed for that day of retirement where she could dedicate MORE time to her painting and volunteer work at a botanical garden.
Yet, not long after she retired she fell ill. We believe she had a stroke or a series of mini-strokes. She lost good use of her right arm and hand. Her painting days were gone immediately.
This happened about 10 years ago. She’s still not in the best of health, in her mid-70s, and hasn’t done much with her art since she retired.
I’m happy for her that she didn’t put all her art off until that infamous day of retirement because we witnessed first hand what happens.
My dear old Dad looked forward to traveling after he retired. Unfortunately, ever since he retired he’s been busy with life. Marrying me off, helping his elderly parents and mother-in-law, all their deaths and what follows when your parents die, his own wife’s illnesses and now his own. His travels have consisted of a few trips to Florida. While those are still admirable trips, it’s not Hawaii or oversees like he wanted. He’s been retired for 14 years. I don’t see a big vacation in his immediate future. He’s 75.
So this whole idea of a bucket list… My list consists of things that I COULD do tomorrow if I wanted. I COULD go to Israel. I COULD join a band. I COULD start painting. I COULD learn another language. For me, right now however, life seems a bit too busy to take on another project or unending commitment. So I put some of these things off until next year or 5 years from now.
And to be honest, if I died tomorrow, I wouldn’t have but maybe one regret about what I DIDN’T do for a variety of reasons.
1) My life has become less about material/earthly things and more about relationships. Granted, people ARE earthly so there is that fine line but given the choice to a one shot at a deep discussion with a friend, feeling more deeply connected or a free weekend getaway, I THINK I’d pick the former.
2) heaven is for real and it’s gonna be awesome. I know, in my heart of hearts, that I will likely not get to go to the birthplace of my Grandfather, the family vineyard in Germany, the Pyramids at Giza and Israel. If I get to do one of them I will be lucky. But that knowledge or experience I want to grasp on that travel I WILL gain when I die. I WILL finally understand my genealogy completely. I WILL have that experience of Israel. I WILL know what the vineyard feels like. All of these things, left undone, are no big deal. Experiencing GOD is the big deal.
my immigrant Grandfather Attilio and my Grandma Rose
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. – Psalm 73:26
3) the list is ever changing and things built up and made to be a phenomenal thing doesn’t always live up to your expectation.
I had on my list to see the band The Gipsy Kings. I loved their music and the way it made me feel. It was something I didn’t believe would be easily attainable because they are from Spain and when they make their tours in the U.S., it’s to places in Texas, California, and Florida. A few years ago they were coming to my town. I HAD to go. So I talked my translator, and best friend, into going (there really was no twisting her arm about it) and we went. The music was great but a couple of the singers were enjoying the ladies running up on stage and rubbing up on them. And while I’m not prudish it just wasn’t something I wanted to see. And the singers, they all but encouraged it.
So, I did something on my bucket list but wasn’t at all how I dreamed it. Expectations are easily ruined, that’s why it’s good never to have them in the first place. A trip to Italy might be ruined with bad weather, rude people or bad food (as if!). Learning another language might be harder and take longer than EXPECTed. It’s good just to name it and move on. God will bless as He will.
Anyway, go ahead and dream a little. You can dream big but be prepared for those dreams not being met. I prefer to dream smedium… Small attainable ones (running a half marathon, getting body fat below 20%, painting more) and medium attainable ones (learn another language, play more music, planning vacations), with a smattering of big dreams (owning a horse, going to Egypt, etc). Smedium goals can be met in time. Big dreams might not ever be met. With a list loaded of big dreams, nothing will get scratched off and, hence, you’ll feel like you’re not living life.
Appreciate what you DO have, family, friends, a home, vehicle, family road trips, a job to pay for the stuff, and Sunday ice cream. 😉 It’s easy in every aspect of life to lose the trees in the forest. Appreciate the trees… They are beautiful too.
A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, – Ecclesiastes 2:24