Backward is Not the New Forward

Life is an amazing adventure, full of hills and valleys, roses and thorns, sunshine and rain, and I am grateful every day to have the opportunity to experience it all – yes, even on those days when the valleys, thorns, and rain seem to be the only parts of the landscape I encounter. I do grapple often with which path to take, and I’ve been known to start down one and abruptly take another completely different one. Being able to experiment with new ideas and see which ones fit and which ones don’t is all part of the fun. None of us may know the exact path our life is supposed to take, and that’s perfectly okay, but I’d be willing to bet that most of us know the paths we don’t want to take, and likely we know that from experience.

Which brings me to my point today…

Gotta love Honest Abe!

I’ve had a lot of people ask me a lot of questions lately, most of which are really if/then statements disguised as a question, and a lot of people make a lot of suggestions on all the wild and crazy things I could do with my life “now that”. So I wanted to take a moment to talk this through (for myself, as much as for them).

But first, a little backstory on the proverbial straw that inspired this post in the first place…

Yesterday, I got a random message from someone I once knew in a city I once lived in – someone who no longer wanted to be friends when I “settled down” and stopped “hanging out”. Over the past 11 years, I’ve heard from this former friend exactly twice, both times while said friend was at a bar, and I’ve been unfriended on Facebook every time I’ve accepted the request.

I’m not sure why this former friend reached out except to suggest that I move back to this city I once lived in or at the very least, come visit. Folks, like President Lincoln, I may walk slowly but I do not walk backward. I left that city because the culture and the people (my so-called friends included) did not align with my goals and values and being there was making me depressed. A true friend would know that.

A lot has changed in my life, but not my memory, and definitely not my goals and values. They remain the same. It is only the presence of the people around me that has changed and yes, there is a void where those people used to be, but that doesn’t mean I want to fill it with things that I know don’t fit my life anymore or with people who are still looking for the meaning of life in places I’ve long since abandoned.

I’m still the same me I was 2 months ago when I was writing about cleaning out our life closet and choosing enough. I still get up in the morning and have a single cup of coffee while I read a good book and quietly greet the day. I still make the bed, take recycling, watch TV, go for walks, and eat a mostly plant-based diet (though I did enjoy some fish while I was in Florida last week). I am still very anti-consumer and anti-debt, even though I’ve had to buy some things lately that have put me at odds with both. I call that a challenge, not a compromise, and I will conquer the debt. But I won’t do it by “getting a real job” again. That’s not who I am, nor is it who I want to be. Money is still just a tool to me. I believe wholeheartedly in the “why” of the things I choose to do with my life so no, those things are not going to change. Outside of preparing to move back to Florida, the most “wild and crazy” thing I’m likely to do “now that” is pick up a ukulele. I’ve always wanted to learn to play one.

This time has been stressful for everyone involved and we’re all trying to cope in the way that works best for us. I have good days and bad days, days that seem overwhelming, and days that seem hopeful and bright. The thing that carries me through all of them is holding on to the good parts of my life. So many times people think a break in one part of their life means the whole is broken and everything must be scrapped and rebuilt again. I don’t think that’s always true.

In Japanese culture there’s something called Kintsugi – the art of repairing broken pottery with gold to make it even stronger and more beautiful. I think the same concept can be applied to life. Keep the good, repair the cracks with love and compassion, and you will be a much stronger, more beautiful vessel for holding all the joy and happiness that is sure to come your way.