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If you could spend the next year as someone radically different from the current “you” — a member of a different species, someone from a different gender or generation, etc. — who would you choose to be?

I’ve thought about this since yesterday. I always hope to be somewhat different every year of my life having grown more in wisdom, faith, knowledge, and experience. I also hope to I’ve done something each year that’s new or different. Especially in retirement I don’t want to stagnate, and fortunately I do have a drive to keep learning and doing more.

After all the work I’ve put into making a better me — fixing some problems, smoothing out rough spots, maintaining good health, adjusting my attitude, and getting better at living in the present moment (with plans), I don’t know how much of that I’d want to give up.

There are certainly things I wish I’d done at an appropriate age. And they different than the dreams I had in my youth. Life change people, usually for the better. With increased knowledge, hopefully, one also gain increased tolerance, empathy  and understanding. That’s not always true, of course, some people dwell in the past, lament their lost youth, let life’s events erode them. That’s too bad, because the truth is that it’s dealing with life’s bad or sad events that defines one’s character and causes growth.

I badly wanted to be a lawyer when I was 22, but I didn’t have the money to go to law school then; as it happens I don’t think I would have made a very good attorney so perhaps not having that desire fulfilled was for the better. At that point I didn’t know how much I would enjoy having children — they weren’t even on the radar or in my plans. They changed my life for the better.

I kind of envy my daughter’s job; she’s a graphic designer for the most part, and I always enjoyed artistic pursuits, and using Photoshop and Illustrator when I was teaching (and on my own), so that’s something I can feel I missed out on. But I’ve used my creativity in raising children, teaching school, and for personal purposes, so all is not lost.

I’ve never had a daredevil spirit, so bungee jumping, or parachuting are not something I feel I’ve missed. I’d have to wish to be and entirely different person to achieve those! My fear of heights, and being out of control have caused skiing, high diving, sledding, and mountain climbing off my wishes, too. Being the person I am, I just don’t miss not doing those things, but that doesn’t mean I feel I’ve missed them either, and would want to change into a person who does.

I marvel at how young men and woman can enlist in the military and put their lives on the line for me — and all U.S. Americans. I’d like to know how I’d face some of the situations they encounter, or be a journalist recording their actions, but I’m not sure I have the bravery, self-possession, and decisiveness being on the front lines takes. I don’t think anyone can know how they would react to life and death events until they happen; but I do admire those who choose to defend our freedoms.

I have to stick with me, for better or worse. Yes, I’ve put up barriers against some activities and pursuits, but that’s part of getting to know oneself better. Sometimes it’s been hard being me, and I wouldn’t want to cast aside what I’m building to try something new.

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