"What will you do with your one wild and precious life?" -poet Mary Oliver
I hear you. You’re taking the kids to soccer practice, working 60 hours a week, cooking, gardening—in this busy life, do you really have time to ask yourself this question?
May 21 has come and gone, and while you may think Harold Camping is a religious crazy, he’s done us a service: he’s reminded us that this life is finite. If there are things you’ve wanted fiercely for your life, things you’d regret leaving undone if life ended today, it’s a good time to consider them again.
Forget the obstacles for a minute. And there are always obstacles: time, money, family, job. Set them aside and finish this question: I’ve always wanted to… what is it you have always wanted to do?
Something new calls, even a career change. Could you do something now – a college course, volunteer work, a part-time gig—toward your new career? Always wanted to work with kids? If you can’t afford the time or money to return to school, volunteer with a group that serves children, such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters. If you’ve wanted to teach, virtually every elementary school is looking for people to read to or tutor kids. It’s a need you could fill on a lunch break, days off or if your company offers flex-time. Baby steps are still steps in the direction of your dream.
The travel dream. Maybe you’ve longed to throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain, gaze at the Taj Mahal in the moonlight, or spend hours browsing the Louvre. It was once my dream to spend a month alone in an apartment in Rome. I asked for the time off two years in advance and lined up coverage for my clients. I knew the cost, and saved up for it. Friends have helped fund their own dreams by foregoing their daily Starbucks fix and saving the money instead, chucking spare change in a jar, eliminating mall shopping sprees, carpooling and making other small changes that over a couple of years added up. Can you find a way to do it? The answer is probably “yes.”
Bitten by the creative bug. Have you always wanted to express your creativity? I used to complain that my career took up so much time that I couldn’t write my book. A friend finally got tired of hearing it: “Just do it—writers write.” And so it could be with you. If you want to paint, sculpt, write, weave baskets, just do it. Low-cost community classes are often available if you want help getting started and there are Meet-up groups for virtually every creative endeavor. Seek and ye shall find.
Risk-your-life adventure. So you’ve always wanted to sky dive or climb Mount Everest. Sky-diving’s within reach of everyone—it’s like that first step out on the wing of a plane—you just step out. Maybe you can’t climb Everest yet, but Mount Shasta’s not very far and the climb to the summit is a smaller-scale version that also includes rock moraine, snowfields and glacial features. Other challenging mountains that are easily accessible from the Bay Area, include Mount Rainer in Washington and Longs Peak in Colorado. If you’re not ready for the real thing, why not join a climbing gym and get a taste of your dream?
A song in your heart. A friend learned piano in her 50s and another took guitar lessons at 62. You’re never too old to learn, and we’re lucky enough to have hundreds of music teachers in the area. It’s just a matter of picking up the phone and starting.
We have but one precious life, and how you live it is up to you. If there’s something undone that would fulfill you or lend meaning to your life, or just be one heck of a lot of fun, break it down into components, leap the barriers and find a way to make it happen. The clock’s ticking.