“I want you to realize that this life we’re living right now is not a practice game. It’s the World Series, the Super Bowl, and the Olympics all rolled up into one.”
I’ve never been one to worry too much about what age I am. When I turned 30, it really wasn’t that big of a deal. We were actively working on getting pregnant with our second child, we celebrated at one of my favorite spots, and it was just another decade. I did remember being filled with hope of what I would accomplish in my 30s. So, when I turned 40, I was surprised it bothered me as much as it did. I felt, in a way, like I had let myself down. There were certain goals I’d worked on endlessly during my 30s, hoping to put that part of my life behind me so I could concentrate on other more important things. But, instead of making progress, I had seemed to go backwards. I didn’t like it.
This year, I will turn 42. The truth of that hit me hard when I read and really absorbed the words of the above quote. This isn’t a practice run. Life can get better…it can get worse…but it will keep moving. What I choose to do with my time, talents, attitude, circumstances, how I choose to respond to others’ around me – this is the real deal. I don’t get a do over on the time I’m living right now.
I don’t get to relive my 30s. They’re gone. And while I hate to admit it, I have regrets. I’m disappointed in how I focused too much on certain areas, letting them affect every other choice I made. While I can’t get those moments (or that decade) back, I can choose to move forward and do things differently from here forward. I can choose to live purposefully. I can choose to seize opportunities as they arise and make memories to store away for later. I can choose to live the best “me” every day, instead of thinking I can “start over tomorrow.” I can choose to move my body, eat healthy without deprivation, love hard, forgive more. I can choose to hit the “restart” button faster when I fail, and I will fail, instead of wallowing in regrets, guilt, and self condemnation. I can choose to follow the path God put me on instead of wandering over to other’s paths, contemplating if I should be there instead.
Will I get it perfectly? Nope. When I hit the next milestone (50), I’m sure I’ll still have regrets. Some areas may not have improved as much as I would’ve hoped, but I pray I’ve made some progress in extending grace for those imperfections…to myself, my kids, and those around me. I would rather be an imperfect example filled with grace than a perfect example of what not to do.
I need to keep reminding myself this isn’t dress rehearsal. I can’t stop the play if I mess up my lines. This is opening night. When I mess up, and I will, I need to keep going, keep trying, and maybe learn to laugh at myself a little more. After all, most mistakes are better when you laugh about them later.
© Cheri Swalwell 2014