The current reading is Meghan Daum's book of essays entitled Unspeakable. During my breakfast this morning, I read her piece on baby boomers, Gen Xers and millennials, growing up and looking back and expectations met and unmet.
She had some very thoughtful insights about when you are young being like in a room with a million doors and endless possibilities. And realizing one day that you are too old to be a young anything.
I remember those young years of possibilities so well. She remembers them with way more hopefulness than I do. I remember seeing endless possibilities to fuck up. I remember being so clueless and feeling like everyone around me had the answers except me.
I remember making what felt like then and actually turned out to be crucial decisions on a whim because I was too lazy to do it right. I remember good times but I remember the bad ones probably more clearly. One of my strongest memories is in my 30's, coming home one night from work - a job I hated - and getting lost. It was dark. I was tired. My marriage which had never been good was turning out to be the worst decision of my life. So heading home was no grand prize. I remember pulling over to the side of the road in a tree lined residential area and just sobbing for what seemed like hours.
Meghan Daum seems to be looking back now (she's in her 40's when she's writing this piece) with a lot of regret. She's looking at the things she wanted to do and didn't.
One of the great joys in my life now at age 65, is the freedom it brings. So many many things do not matter any more. I no longer carry the burden of making decisions that will affect my next 40-50 years. I no longer feel the need to please people I don't want to please.
It turns out that even my worst decisions all carried a giant up side. Once I got free from that marriage, I instantly dropped 'finding Mr. Right' from my list of todo's. That freed up my life for things that were far more important and fun. And some of my decisions - even those made poorly or on a whim without appropriate consideration - turned out to be pretty darned good ones after all.
There's this thing about what would you tell your younger self. And, you know what? I think the best, smartest, kindest thing I could tell my younger self would be absolutely nothing. The good, the bad and the ugly made me today and while there are tons of things I wish I had done better, I'm perfectly cucumber cool with the reality. And for that I am exceedingly grateful.