When I was very young, I always thought that when I reached some in-determinant but greater years of age, I would finally be comfortable with me. That I would surely have fully explored the highway of my being. I would know my strengths and weaknesses, my superstitions and fears, what makes me happy and what does not, where to turn on that highway and where not to turn. I thought I would now know how best to live my life, have identified the potholes that impeded me, filled them in and moved right along like clockwork. That from here on out, it would be smooth traveling.
I’ve discovered there was much my mother never told me. She never mentioned the lingering doubts or feelings of inadequacy. She never once discussed with me what she regretted most. She never explained that it doesn’t actually get easier; only more confusing as your attitudes change and your youth passes you by. And while you once thought you knew where you were headed (isn’t the certainty of youthful ignorance wonderful), it isn’t even all that clear any longer where you’ve been.
Attempting to learn to embrace change and uncertainty has been a steep uphill battle for me; at least a 6% grade. I like constancy and habit and ruts. Within the ruts, I always know what I am doing and where I am going. Like the train tracks that trains have no choice but to follow. There is the illusion of security in the ruts of my life. I don’t get bored easily and this could be part of it. I eat oatmeal every morning for breakfast. I don’t have to think about it or make a decision about what to make. Simple, easy, knowable, comforting.
I grew up with the working model that you go to school, learn to do one thing, do that thing for the rest of your life, retire from doing that one thing, and then die some time after that. Seemed like the ideal situation to me. But my life has taken a different road (actually many different roads) and what I thought then is not my reality now.
I got off that highway years ago and it wasn’t necessarily of my own choosing. I was detoured by circumstance and knocked aside by unexpected explosions of real life. I’ve explored so many byways that I can’t count them and I’ve probably forgotten a few. I can’t look back to the start of my journey and trace it in a smooth progression from there to here.
But while the illusion of security is one that I crave, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Have I made peace with it all? No way. And I probably never will. I still haven’t moved past my fear of the dentist or hypodermic injections. I still have to bolster my nerve just to call someone on the telephone. Don’t ask me why. It’s just how it is. I have regrets and doubts and am certain that I will never be truly adequate.
But I’ve acquired too much wisdom (at least that is how it seems to me) to allow that illusion to hold real sway over my life. And had I stayed on my highway, stuck to the safe road, the one I knew (or thought I knew), I most likely wouldn’t be writing, or making jewelry, or doing any number of wonderful and fulfilling things.
Still, uncertainty bothers me, change frightens me and coping with life’s ups and downs can be difficult. As a child, I always thought I’d be past all this by now. But that is not the case and what I didn’t think is the greater more beautiful part. I will be 68 before I know it. Think I can get it all together by then? I don’t. And you know what; I don’t think that it matters.