We can never know
about the days to come
But we think about them anyway
Ain’t it the truth? I don’t know about you, but I feel sometimes like I spend my whole life anticipating things.
Anticipating the first day of school.
Anticipating the last day of school.
Anticipating life after college.
That’s it, that’s about the whole life cycle right there. Of course, there is much in between to anticipate as well, including the past six months of my life, during which I have been anticipating an enormous change to my work life, as well as a big (big) birthday.
Without prating on yet again about how big a transition it will be to return to a full-time position, shuttering my independent consulting business and losing my professional autonomy, which basically sums up how I’ve been feeling since last summer, when I learned that I was being offered a promotion and also being asked to work full-time – suffice it to say that it’s been the mother lode of anticipation. Mostly negative and filled with a little fear.
However, I’ve finally jumped across the Rubicon and officially started in my new position with my new schedule. And short of the fact that I spent the first week of that new position essentially in the prone position with a terrible virus, it’s been fine.
It’s been more than fine. It’s fun. And it’s exciting. And it holds so much potential for growth, and reward, and excitement at work. All that, and I get to earn a little more money too for working a full schedule. Who knew? All that wasted negative psychic energy.
The week before I started, a friend reminded me that the “9’s” are roiling and terrible, and that the “0’s” are all calm again. The “9’s”, as in 29. 39, 49. And the “0’s” as in 50. As in turning 50 next month. As in feeling a bit sick over it for most of the past year, thinking morbidly about being on the other side of the bell curve for age, and wondering, a bit irrationally, if I will die at the same age as my mother, which would give me precisely 18 more years to accomplish all that I want to accomplish in this life.
I know that my mother feared the same thing (her mother died at 42 and she felt that every year past that was gravy.) And I suspect others do as well.
But I know from experience that my friend is right, and that as soon as the bell tolls on the morning on my big birthday, the universe will realign on its axis and I’ll feel better again. It will toll for me, but in a liberating, good way.
When my oldest son, now 17 and himself anticipating a big life change this fall, was five, and getting ready to start kindergarten in the fall, I began telling my officemates IN APRIL that I would be taking off his first day of school. In September.
And I did. And I cried. And we went to McDonald’s after the morning was over and he was fine. And when I returned to the office the next day, and sheepishly admitted that it really had been all about me, they smiled and said, “you think?”
One of the things I worry about with all my anticipation is the fact that I must be missing out on actually living, while I sit and wait for things to happen. T.S. Eliot’s famous line from Prufrock: “I have measured out my life in coffee spoons” has always resonated. I can’t just live in the moment.
So in addition to my promise to myself to try to relax and enjoy the ride a little bit, once I pass the entrance gate, I also realize that Carly Simon has it completely right:
And tomorrow, we might
not be together
I’m no prophet, and I don’t know nature’s way
So I’ll try and see into your eyes right now
And stay right here, ‘cause these are the good old days
As I get up from writing this to meet a number of close friends for a birthday celebration (not mine), I need to realize that these are, indeed, the good old days. We create them as we go. And we live them as they come.
But still, I can’t change my stripes completely. Maybe I’ll allow myself just a little anticipation for my son’s departure to college next summer. But you better believe I won’t be celebrating at McDonald’s this time, and I won’t be putting in for the day off 5 months in advance.
Maybe only three.
Photo by eatmorechips via Flickr