In a month, I will be 53 years old. And in many ways, it feels like I'm starting my life over from scratch. I'm full of questions.
How much money can I save before I'm 65? 70? Will it matter?
Am I ever going to have a full time job again?
What other changes am I going to have to make in order to live below my means?
Am I ever going to have a wife again?
Will I ever make love?
And just how does a post-middle aged gray-beard meet women who are single, sane, and not young enough to be his daughters?
Will my ability to learn and remember ever come back?
Will my energy?
Will my cancer?
Will my faith?
Worries? I don't think of them as worries. They don't keep me up at night. They don't make me anxious or angry or afraid. But these questions... they are on my mind. I know a man who spent weeks after his divorce sleeping with a loaded rifle next to his bed. He was waiting to work up the courage to put the barrel in his mouth. Thankfully, he never did, and before long, he met and married the love of his life. I know another, well into his 70s now, who still refers to his ex as "my wife." He has no rifle, but he has a bottle and a pack of cigarettes and has been using them both like a gun for years. I am not there. And I'm not going there. That's a cliff whose crumbling edge I have explored quite enough in my life, thanks. Whatever life has in store for me, I intend to be around to drink it it.
They are not worries... more like puzzles. Like the Rubic's Cube that used to be on coffee tables or the little wooden triangle with the golf tees that you try to solve before they bring you your dinner at Cracker Barrel, these questions occupy my mind from time to time, then I put them down and move on to whatever is next in the present.
My shrink calls it mindfulness. It's being aware of what's happening now, acknowledging the difference between what's real, and what's only in my head. I read one of those Facebook pearls last night that hit home: "Worry is a waste of imagination." It's true. If God is our role model... if our goal is to imitate our Creator, then worry is misuse of the most important creative tool we have. Even the dullest of us is blessed with imagination. using it with love may be our most important goal.
The truth is, we can not help but see possibilities in our world. It seems to me that the trick is looking for possibilities for love rather than fear. God did not create us out of fear, but out of love. Our universe is not a hiding place, it is a work of art by the great Artist. My life can be a tragedy, a comedy; an epic poem or a joyful song. It all depends on how I choose to apply my imagination, the glorious ability to see more than what is here and now.
It isn't about turning my back on reality. It's more like seeing things as they really are, then looking deeper for the loving God who set them in motion. It's asking the What If questions that lead toward love.
What if I stay strong and excited enough to keep working for the rest of my life?
What if I can simplify my life so money doesn't matter quite so much?
What if I learn to live at peace with myself, so I can be a more complete part of my next relationship?
What opportunities will my health and my history offer me for service and inspiration to others?
How much stronger will my faith be when I have passed through this dark valley?
It isn't just changing the words... it's changing the intention. I intend to live. To love. To stay sane. To serve God.
There are a lot of circumstances in life that I can't do a thing about. The way I treat life isn't one of them.
How many times have I wished for one more chance in the last 53 years? Good news... I just got it. They say youth is wasted on the young. "If only I had known then what I know now." OK, life, old chum... now I know. I may never be young again, but I can look at you through young eyes. My heart will never be unbroken; the scars will heal, but never disappear; but that doesn't mean I can't love with all the passion of my youth. The years are slowly wearing down my joints and muscles and synapses, but I can fight them every step of the way by keeping strong and fit and active.
Some people respond to tragedy by dying prematurely, then waiting for their body to catch up. I choose another path. I'm going to live every second I have left, seeing what is, and imagining what could be, always trying to see life the way a loving Artist sees it.
We can focus our eyes on impossibilities, or possibilities. It's our choice. This morning, I'm choosing life. Love. The glorious Maybe. What if God really does have more in mind for me than I can possibly ask or imagine?