I was the kid who squeezed my eyes shut on roller coasters. Sat in the middle car. Clung to the metal bar and screamed – even while my older sister wildly waved her arms above her head.
Colored inside the lines.
Didn’t jump off the diving board.
Never smoked anything – ever.
Always chose truth instead of dare.
I have structured most of my life around alarms, notices, reminders – a mishmash of appointments, deadlines, meetings, ball games, classes. On those rare times when my iPhone gets left on the nightstand – I have to go back for it.
Planning can be comforting – like fried chicken and mashed potatoes.
Recently, I convinced God that I was quite capable of planning less, of actually living one day at a time. I even added it to the to-do list:
Call the vet.
Buy more Gatorade.
Plan a life of spontaneity.
But as I sat outside one morning, I planned nothing and felt everything in a single moment: a train rumbling, the birds chattering, some leftover rain dripping, the neighbor’s terrier yipping.
“Going through a divorce was like stepping off the edge of a cliff,” I told a friend. “I just closed my eyes.” Of course, when I went tumbling over that particular cliff almost two years ago, I envisioned myself crashing on the rocks, sinking to the bottom.
“Why did you close your eyes?” he asked. “Didn’t you want to see the view from the other side?”
So, here I am, standing on the edge of another cliff. But now I know that life is a moving montage, not a still picture. It’s not a blur; it’s a collection of clear moments:
Singing “Rock of Ages” in an old church with a high, stained-glass ceiling. Waking up to a cat purring loudly in my left ear. Seeing the sun set over Lake Overholser. Dancing in my living room. Cooking with my son. Planning a trip to the beach. Sleeping through the alarm. Getting a pedicure with my daughter. Laughing over Mexican food with my Mom. Starting a Netflix movie at 2 a.m. on a school night. Playing the Wii when the kids aren’t home. Watching a thunderstorm on friends’ back porch. Soaking in a bubble bath by candlelight.
It’s girls’ night out.
It’s an ocean view.
It’s a good-night kiss.
It’s Vintage Game Night.
It’s a late-night phone call.
It’s a foot rub.
It’s that first cup of coffee.
It’s an inside joke.
It’s a good book.
It’s roses on the kitchen table.
It’s crispy bacon on a Sunday morning.
It’s getting a check in the mail.
I will probably never open my eyes on a rollercoaster. But on the other side of 50, I intend to enjoy the spectacular view.