That old expression about being at the end of one’s rope took on a whole new meaning for me several years ago. I caught an episode of a Canadian TV talk show; host Dini Petty was interviewing a man, an author I think, about his beliefs.
The subject was the increasingly popular notion of “living in the moment” because time was fleeting and life was short. To very visually and dramatically illustrate his point that none of us really have a moment to lose, her guest whipped out a piece of rope that was about 80 inches long.
That was significant in that the rope represented, in inches, the average life span of a Canadian woman. He then very unceremoniously lopped off a piece representing Dini’s age in inches.
That act of theatrics drove the underlying message deep into my heart and consciousness. I didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to do my own math. At that moment in time I was halfway there—-with ‘there’ being dead.
Until that moment of insight, I was living my life pretty much the same way you’re probably living yours. Lots of plans, dreams, aspirations. Lots of good intentions and ‘someday I wills’. Lots of losing sight of today in anticipation of tomorrow. Lots of believing I had all the time in the world.
Following that show, I mourned for a day or two. I mourned lost opportunities, lost youth, lost dreams. The cold, harsh reality that I would be unable to do everything that I wanted and intended to do hit me hard.
Fortunately, I didn’t wallow for long. I very deliberately began dragging those unfulfilled dreams kicking and screaming into the light of day. Was the desire to paint or cross-stitch or write a book or get a degree or garden or make a million still a real and burning desire?
This introspection led to goal-setting exercises, prioritizing of things and the first tentative steps away from the shotgun strategy I’d used to a more focused, laser-like approach. For example, as long as I kept my dream of painting just that, a dream, I was brilliant; I could do no wrong. Didn’t I owe it to myself to finally put the dream to the test—or forever lay it to rest? To finally get on with doing the things I was destined to do in this life?
This is all scary stuff. Risking failure, risking success. Not knowing how or where to begin. Not knowing whether anyone would support you in your efforts. Not knowing if you’ve made the right choices.
I am pleased to inform you that I passed the test. I can and do paint. I regret to inform you that the act of looking inside to find one’s authentic self and true mission is never complete. I, however intend to die trying. At least that’s how it looks from where I sit.
*Reprinted with permission