Posted in Life As I Know It

Do Overs and the Theory of Relativity…Well, Kinda

According to Matthew McConaughey—or maybe Einstein—time is relative. Having seen Interstellar over the weekend, I am again challenged to wrap my brain around what this means. (I think I need a brain yoga class—with so many things requiring me to stretch my brain, I’m in serious jeopardy of pulling a muscle.) (Also, in a completely unrelated parenthetical comment, I must admit that while McConaughey was piloting that spacecraft, I couldn’t help but wonder if he’d rather be driving a Lincoln.)

 

l space

 

So…the relativity of time. While the academic version of it puts time in a fourth dimension, I just want to deal with the relativity of good old linear time today.

If you’ve ever seen the movie City Slickers, perhaps you’ll remember Mitch, Billy Crystal’s character, giving a brief summary of life:

 

 

In classic Crystal style, he is a huge Doug Downer for those innocent middle schoolers. It’s a funny bit, but at the same time—depending on how old you are—you can’t help but wince at the kernels of truth in his rant. For the 40s—my decade—he states, “you grow a little pot belly, you grow another chin. The music starts to get too loud; one of your old girlfriends from high school becomes a grandmother.”

Sigh. Thankfully, while the others already apply, the music hasn’t grown too loud for me. Just ask my son who occasionally needs to tell me to turn down the music. Mama still likes it loud. (And, no—I am not yet hard of hearing!)

There is another part of the movie that resonates with me, though, and that’s the desire to have a “do over.”

In the movie, Phil (Daniel Stern) is at a crossroads in his life and states, “My life is over! I’m almost 40 years old, and I’m at the end of my life!” Doug Downer, meet your brother.

If you happen to be someone who is exactly where you thought you would be at this point in your life, I commend you. God bless. I have a feeling you are in the minority, though.

Many of us, like Phil, aren’t exactly where we envisioned ourselves.

To cheer up his friend, Mitch offers this hope: “You remember when we were kids, and we were playing ball, and we hit the ball over the fence out of bounds, and we yelled, DO OVER?…Your life is a do over. You’ve got a clean slate.”

 

mitt

 

Of course, it’s not as simple as that, we all know, but the idea of second (or third, or fourth, or more) chances to create yourself anew is powerful—and scary. While it shines hope, it doesn’t necessarily come easy.

I’m in “do over” phase right now. And this is where the whole linear time issue fires up. Some days I feel like it’s simply too late for me to start over. How much time do I have left? (Doug Downer, meet your sister.) But other days I am well aware that all I have—and all anyone else has—is…today. Just today. So whether I’m in my 40s and trying to carve out a new life or I’m in my 20s, the one thing I know I have in the spectrum of my life is…today.

There is no difference.

True, if you create a timeline of my life, this new life chapter will be shorter than if I had started writing it earlier, but all I have is today’s page. There is no going back and editing. There’s only today’s blank page.

Every day is a mini do-over of its own.

 

do over_4

 

If today was a piece of poop on a stick, tomorrow doesn’t have to be—and if it is, well then the next day offers the same fresh chance for change.

So if you, like me, find yourself struggling at times, wondering whether your life choices screwed things up or possibly made things better, remember that time is relative.

Within Mitch’s rant from the clip above, he says, “Value this time in your life, kids, cause this is the time in your life when you still have your choices.”

Sorry, Mitch, but I disagree. Yes, things get way more complicated with responsibilities and commitments as you get older, but…we still have our choices. The impact may be farther reaching, but…we still have our choices.

Hindsight may have us kicking ourselves that we didn’t make certain choices sooner (or at all), but that does nothing to help write today’s page.

This is something I need to constantly remind myself about. I am not too old for a do over. And if I make it to 80 and I want yet another do over, I won’t be too old then, either.

What matters is the DO in do over. Otherwise…it’s just…over.

So fill up today’s page as best you can. And remember, if you don’t like what you wrote for today, tomorrow offers a brand new page.

 

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Posted in Life As I Know It

I Fall to Pieces (or Pop Goes the Knee-sel)

It was 13 years ago that I first uttered a variation of a phrase I use. I said, “Mind’s 18, body’s 32” when I returned to the softball field after many years away, having bolted out of the batter’s box upon hitting the ball. Why did I say it? Because my instincts kicked in to burst into a sprint to first base, but the 32-year-old quad of my left leg wasn’t so game. Ripppp.

See, my cocky little self didn’t understand the value of warming up as someone in their right mind in their fourth decade of life should. Well, battling that tear all season, I became a devout convert to running warm-ups prior to game time. In my mind, I was still 18. But my body had—and has—other ideas.

My soon-to-be 87-year-old mom has uttered the phrase “growing old isn’t for wimps” many times over the last several years. As she is battling her current and most significant health challenge, I know she did not reach this age by being a weenie. I hope that some of those genes are coursing through my body. So far, I think I’m heading in that direction, which is good because I apparently am a slow learner regarding the brain/body connection.

This was my sweet move--except this is not me. Other than that, iDENtical.
This was my sweet move–except, what with him being a guy and all, this is not me. Other than that, iDENtical.

My latest time to use the aforementioned phrase was a few months ago…except this time it went, “Mind’s 18, body’s 45.” And this time it was a soccer field. And a kids vs parents game. I instinctually tried this sweet roundhouse kick move only to hear my knee pop. It felt like everything below my knee was glass and just shattered down to my toes.

As I crumpled to the ground, my husband looked over to me and asked if I was okay. “Uh…I think I’m done for the game.” I was pretty certain it would not be a good idea for me to shake it off and get back in there. Of course, all the rest of the parents immediately shifted their playing into low gear, intent on keeping the body count at one.

The real deal.
The real deal.

Long story not so long, I recently had knee surgery to take care of the damage that was caused when a 45yo woman tried to kick a soccer ball in midair while playing her son’s 8-9yo team.

I know, I know. That’s my point. My brain has not caught up to the idea that I’m getting old. Until now. I think. Within a month and a half I’ve had my gallbladder out and my knee “cleaned up.” I’ve definitely been feeling my age—and I think I may be feeling other people’s age, too—like I’m just gathering up years to heap on my mind so that it doesn’t pull this crap again.

Only, I don’t want to.

Even though I’ve been hobbling around and wincing or in pain for one reason or another for the last several months, I’m just not ready to throw in the towel and act my age. It’s just that it’s getting harder to ignore.

Thankfully, I’m a hardhead with strong instincts. After all, mind over matter, right? And maybe I will continue to use this phrase until, Lord willing, I’m an octogenarian like my mom, and I’ll be saying, “Mind’s 18, body’s 87.” Of course, at that point I may be in a full body cast, but deep down inside there will be a part of me that is smiling, knowing that the towel hasn’t been thrown in but is still in my corner, right where it belongs.