“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty well preserved body, but rather skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”
Hunter S. Thompson
This quote is on a plaque underneath a mirror on the front wall of the office that I have taken up residence in for the better part of my career. It hangs by the entrance way near a portrait that I drew at a paint party that reads “A Girl Should Be Fabulous.” All around this office, you will find symbolic tokens meant to remind me to dream, to follow my bliss, to not give up hope and to be grateful for the opportunity of this once around. And, over the last 12 years, this particular corner office that I made feel like a home away from home, has served its purpose as a little fortress where I hid myself away, slowly getting stuck year after year, not knowing when to cut loose from the gilded cage as I became more fearful of breaking out of a set routine that I found myself in.
I suppose that if you make things comfortable enough, it becomes very difficult to move on and grow. Perhaps there is a fear that this is as good as it gets and if you leave, things will never be better. Perhaps as you grow older, you become more risk adverse and less willing to compromise the status quo to see what more life has in store for you. Fix in your ways, stubborn to change, I suppose my inspirational hideaway, slowly changed over the years from what it was intended to be, to something that was holding onto me. And, gratefully, I became aware of this while I am still young enough to come of age and recreate myself as a 40-something, not quite old enough to give up on the dream quite yet. Still looking to free myself to what all the symbols all around suggested that I do.
And then, things start to change all around you like signs falling from the sky, that it is time to rejoin the adventure. Old friends who have been constants for many years move on themselves. The option of a career path that you thought was the next obvious step for you on the journey fails to materialize. You took great strides in setting out on a path where your passions lead you. And you start to break out of your comfort zone little by little and see new opportunities arise that you would have never even considered had it not been for the need to not be where you are. The what ifs of leaving a routine that has gotten you so far threaten to hold you in a pattern until staying there is just far more painful than venturing into the unknown. And the unknown, even though it starts off as a stressful proposition, feels somewhat satisfying as you gain more through learning something new each day. Until you get to a place, higher and higher, rising and rising, looking back with a smile, knowing that you can never return to where you were again. Surprising yourself at how quickly your world began to transform from safe and careful to exciting and adventurous. Getting what you need in a new way where this “not so old” dog is acquiring a new set of tricks and meeting all sorts of amazing new people to add to the collection, to infuse your soul with more life.
Such a process built on faith, perhaps a little bit of desperation, and a whole lot of proclamation. And forever grateful for the angels along the way who showed up just when you need a bit of “living” inspiration (maybe you get a letter when you need it the most) and remind you, even if you forgot, who you are. The encouragement comes as you stop focusing on the safety of a place with a plaque on the wall that holds these words still, but to get out there and experience them. Get out there and skid in broadside until the end, take the leap and fly, doing things you never thought you would, screaming at the top of your lungs- thank you God and wow what a ride!!!
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“Not so old” dogs and new tricks! was originally published on Meg Nocero