Lately I’ve been thinking about high school yearbooks. It drove me wild (in that silent, repressed way) whenever someone wrote, “I really like you. You’re great. Don’t ever change!” Well, they usually wrote “Your great,” which also drove me crazy, but for different reasons.
I could not wait for my life to change. I graduated from high school, went home, packed up my stuff & moved out the following day. A couple of months later, I left Sanford, Maine without a backwards glance. I kept in touch with one or two people for a couple of years & then closed the book on all of it (until recently).
I left with a determination to change my life fundamentally. If I could have erased myself & started over, I would have. These days, I’m more likely to get over it and resolve to do the best I can with what I’ve got. (I still can’t find the karmic eraser, anyway.)
Given all that, I was recently startled by a thought. What with aging and all, have I gotten less likely to make a Big Change?
On the one hand, this may be natural. Perhaps we become old enough to know we are not invincible. We come to know that it hurts (longer) when we fall & a band-aid will not cure-all. The old Once Bitten Twice Shy phenomena rears its head.
Perhaps I should personalize this to say that I may have become risk-averse in recent years and the realization pains me.
Within the last month I made a Big Decision, which I approached thoughtfully and in consultation with several people whom I trust. I made what seemed like a reasoned & reasonable decision. But when the curtain was flung aside, Big Truths looked like Flawed Assessments. At least Dorothy had the comfort of her glittery shoes. I feel like I am standing barefoot in a big room, holding a bag of promise that could be empty.
The thing that really gets me is this: the decision came down to a dichotomy. Perhaps it was my Defining Decision-making Dichotomy:
Do I do what feels idealistic, energetic and cultivating growth, but risky?
Do I do what seems value-based, but safer and represents conservative progress with an eye on long-term stability?
I chose to stay close to what I know and in the end, it feels like I have been granted a diploma signifying The Acquisition of Middle Age, somewhat devoid of wisdom that should have accompanied my need for expensive eye cream.
Do grown ups get do-overs?
In the absence of a do-over, I’m off to buy an overpriced bit of youth restoration cream. Maybe not losing any more ground is the best I can do at the moment.