When I was in elementary and middle school, I spent a month each summer at Girl Scout camp. Each year, I waited with great excitement and anticipation for the summer to come. The time seemed to creep along until I arrived at camp and then, the days flew by, and before I knew it, school was starting again.
My life was pretty much planned out with few choices for me to make. Since my mother worked two jobs at a time when day care was non-existent, I was sent somewhere every afternoon for “classes.” I may be the only person you know that took elocution lessons. They were offered on a day my mother needed childcare, and so I went to Molly Astrakhan’s house after school where she taught us pronunciation and articulation. Just learning to pronounce her name seemed challenging enough. There were dancing lessons and ceramics classes and anything that filled those afternoons, until one of my parents came home from work. I don’t think my mother thought much about what was next. She worked really hard, and the thought of thinking or dreaming beyond the next day was foreign territory.
My life, in contrast, has been filled with “what’s next?” In a few weeks, I’ll be heading back to the States after living and working in South Korea for a year and a half. The time has flown by and I can hardly believe my work is coming to an end. I’m faced with forced retirement for the first time in my life in a country I have come to love. I have no idea what’s next beyond my two months on Peaks Island. There’s a trip with my sister in the fall to celebrate our birthdays. I have a return ticket back to Korea, since my husband, Steve, is returning to finish out his contract. We have a winter rental back in Mexico for January, but beyond that, the question of what’s next is looming before me.
Each time I have been faced with this question, there has been some miraculous path laid out before me. Some of those paths brought sadness and misery, and some brought joy beyond belief. No matter which path I took, I always ended up learning a huge amount about myself, and I have no regrets about the decisions I made. This next path however, seems different. Maybe it’s because the time ahead of me is no longer endless. Or maybe it’s because I have narrowed down the possibilities of what I will or won’t do. I certainly don’t want a big career anymore and I have clarity about heading down a path that will bring joy. As my life enters this new phase, I have some of that same wonderment I had as a little girl heading off to camp each summer. Who will I meet? What adventures will I have? What lessons will I learn? Well, maybe I didn’t ponder those questions back then, but in retrospect, the lessons were boundless. Back then I always knew that I would return to camp the next summer. Time was slow and without limits. Now I live my life knowing that now is the time.
I am ready and open to all the possibilities ahead of me. My trip back this summer, and the solace of being in my home and garden, and seeing friends and family, will surely bring some light to the question, “What’s next?” I have always wanted to live my life to the fullest, to take risks, to take advantage of what was before me, to be willing to make both big and small mistakes, to keep my eyes open to see all those miracles, and so far, I have done just that. Last week I posted this quote on my Facebook page. I’d seen it many times before and I always hoped it described me:
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”
So far the ride has been truly amazing. I’ll let you know where life takes me next.
Stay in touch and I will too.
With love and gratitude,