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.)

 

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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.”

 

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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.

 

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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

Perpetual Reinvention

fireI came to understand somewhat early in my life that it was meant to be lived in chapters. After all, the first couple decades of our lives are structured that way—elementary school, high school, hopefully college…and then we are able to launch into “real” life, right?

I remember my freshman year of college was the first time that I had to face “disrupting” a chapter and understand that…it was okay. I was attending a university that, while an incredibly crazy ball of fun, wasn’t really meeting my academic needs. I recall lying on my day bed in my dorm room thinking, “But you can’t change schools…you have too many sweatshirts from THIS college…” Thankfully, I heard my own pathetic reasoning and knew it was time to move on.

As life would have it, my moving back to Chicago and living in the city meant that a couple years later, when my dad would become terminally ill, I would be a short drive away from home. Funny how life plays out, isn’t it?

 

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But even though I knew early on about my “life chapters,” I still thought that someday I would get “there”…wherever the hell that meant.

As I grow older, though, I see that there is no “there.” There is only “here for now” and wondering what my next right step should be. The wiser me smiles at the naïve me who thought that once things fell into place, I would then have some stability.

 

FiscalJenga

 

But there is no stability. At least not in worldly things.

I see this all around me. So many people I know are going through major transitions. Loss of jobs…divorces…health crises…family issues…home foreclosures…loss of loved ones…

And while there is great fear and anxiety over all of these changes and challenges, there is also grace, courage, and faith to be found, too.

For we can see our past and let it inform our present and future. We can strive to choose better, even though our hard fought wisdom reminds us we are not in control.

For me and my family, this current chapter is stretching us in ways that we never planned. Since my husband’s job loss last year, we are slapping fear in the face and working to chart our own course by launching his firm. Most days the fear slaps right back (and she has one helluva backhand), but we truly believe this is the next right thing for us.

It is anything but easy…yet the beauty comes from the rays of light that find their way to us through the darkness.

 

 

Working together with my husband to start this new chapter has helped us grow together in ways that were not there before he lost his job. From trusting one another and God that this is what we should do to cultivating a new rhythm to our days, we are stronger than we were before.

(Don’t get me wrong—there are days we want to kill each other. Thankfully the sharp tools are too hard to quickly get to on those days.)

Yes, in the struggles of so many, there is grace, courage, and faith…

…for those who are going through change and realizing that they have strength that they didn’t know they had, or those who are working hard to heal old wounds and grow past them, or those who are striving to create new lives in new places with all new faces…

I see the grit and grace, the courageous heart, the surrender to faith.

Our life chapters can often resemble the blacksmith working his iron…putting us in the fire until we are so white-hot we can then be shaped into our next chapter of purpose. And if we cool down and need a new purpose? Stick us in the fire again.

 

 

The hammering hurts like hell, but when we come through it, we are renewed (right?) and ready for our next task.

Yet even though I try hard to understand and find the meaning of life’s trials, I am really just a girl who is ready for a break from the hammering.

But I know better. I know there is more to come, and all I can do is use that understanding to do my best to prepare for whatever unknown chapter is on the horizon.

Here for now, wondering what’s next…bracing and hoping all the same.