I went to a graduation party for my friend’s daughter Saturday night, and as I watched her smile and laugh with infinite possibilities alight in her eyes, I felt… well, it took me a while to figure out exactly what I was feeling. I was suddenly seventeen and at my own graduation party, the world my oyster. I blinked my eyes and nearly twenty years passed. It wasn’t sadness nor regret that flooded my senses; I don’t sit around and dream about changing my past. I felt a sense of loss not for the things I did, but for all that I didn’t do.
Do not squander this precious time you have, I wanted to say. Do not take one single breath for granted. When you wake up every morning, move one step closer to your dreams because someday you could wake up and be so far removed from the life you envisioned for yourself. Do not let any one person dictate to you how you should live your life. Set out to do everything you’ve ever dreamt of doing, and do it with love and passion. Even if you don’t succeed, at least you’ll know you tried.
Would she have listened? Probably not. If someone had told me that when I was seventeen, I would have politely listened and then promptly placed it in my brain’s garbage bin. I did tell her to choose her future- not to leave it to chance. Maybe it will click, maybe not.
Of course, everything I wanted to say to her was really meant for myself, and it’s not too late. Why are we so quick to forget that? What makes us think that once we hit a certain age we must accept whatever path we’re travelling down? How do we stop the dominoes from falling once we’ve set things in motion? Why is it scary for some of us to reinvent ourselves and become everything we dreamed? Why do we stop ourselves from falling recklessly in love as we did in our youth? What’s the absolute worst that could happen? We get hurt? Well, it looks like I survived and I’m willing to do it all over again.
Why is it that the older I become, the more questions I have with no answers to follow?
Breanna dear, twenty years from now I do not want you to wonder what could have happened had you followed your heart and burned a path of your own. You are beautiful, young woman with no responsibilities. Do it now because when you’re my age, it’s quite a bit more difficult.
Impossible? Nope. Challenging? Absolutely. But I’m up for a challenge.
I’m long overdue for a change, but that’s okay. I feel something good is heading my way.
Afterthought: I feel I should clarify something. I have a very full, happy life. Although I’ve never hit Europe, I’ve travelled extensively across our great country. I’ve been sight-seeing in New York and clam-digging in New England. I’ve hiked through slot canyons in the Southwest, lounged under spanish moss in Savannah, and travelled the length of the Pacific Coast Highway. I’ve partied in Vegas nightclubs and meditated in a lovely garden overlooking Swami’s beach in Cali. I have a truly fantastic teenager and a six-month old baby to smother with love, and I know who the great love of my life is. So when I look back, thus far I’ve truly had a great time since I was Breanna’s age. It’s my career choice that gets under my skin, and that is exactly what I’m actively working to change right now. By now I should have at least one book sitting on a shelf in Barnes and Noble with another on its way. Instead I’m slipping into scrubs to head off to work. Argh! Scrubs!