Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).
Today’s a milestone birthday for me – I’m officially in my mid-thirties, something I’ve been dreading pretty much since the last milestone. When I turned 30, I had a bit of a meltdown…I started feeling as if I had done nothing with my life & was on a cusp of not being able to do anything fun now that I was a true “adult.” I started reading through lists of “Things to do before you’re 30” and researching crazy things like skydiving. I eventually settled on a last-minute solo trip to Paris…first time on an airplane, first time travelling alone. It wasn’t necessarily “crazy,” but was absolutely worth it & definitely calmed my spirit (as travel does).
Over the past few years since then, I’ve pushed myself to travel more & do crazy new things: Repelling down a waterfall, free-falling backwards off a cliff, snorkeling (and shredding up my legs) in a coral reef with sea turtles, white-water rafting in Level 3 rapids over a 12′ waterfall, hiking the rainforest on a volcano, trying SCUBA diving, going down the third-steepest waterslide in the world (okay, they had to push me down that one…but it happened!), ziplining high above the trees of the Sierra Madre.
So now, on my 35th birthday, with a list like that accomplished in less than 5 years, WHY is that feeling creeping in again? (And by creeping, I mean hitting me like a bag of bricks). The difference this time is that the meltdown theme has changed. It’s gone from the 29-year-old saying, “You’re almost in your thirties! Go wild! Do things that scare you shitless & make you scream!” to the 34-year-old saying, “You know you’re in your mid-thirties, still single & running out of time to start a family, right? Maybe buy a house or something? At least find a career you love!” Is this normal? Probably. It’s that damned internal clockwork ticking like the Telltale Heart under the floorboards.
I can’t jet off to Paris today (although I would if I could!), so how do I rid myself of this silly voice in my head that makes my chest hurt & my heart feel empty every time I listen to her? Remind myself to live in the present moment. Remind myself that everything is constantly changing & I’ll get to the next step when the time is right. Appreciate exactly where I am right now: I have amazing friends who care about me enough to throw me a surprise birthday party last weekend – I have a new-ish man in my life who I love spending time with – I’m in a leadership role at my job where I’ve been for nearly NINE (?!) years – I have a beautiful condo & I’m spoiled to live within short walking distance to the city core/the BFF’s condo/my office – I have family & friends-like-family who love me.
As the saying goes, “the future depends on what you do today.” Instead of missing out on the great things right under my nose while I worry about the future, I’m ready for 35 to show me the way there.