I was about to climb the stairs to bed the other night, when something stopped me in my tracks. Maybe it was the lighting...the way the light reflected warmly off my orange walls. But my eyes were transfixed by the sight of my dogs.
Each was curled up in their special spot. Two would join me momentarily, but they weren't quite ready to give up their comfy spots downstairs in favor of new comfy spots upstairs. Kizzie, on the other hand, couldn't wait for everyone to be gone so he could sanction the sofa and pass out, undisturbed, for the night.
I stood there at the bottom of the stairs for a couple minutes as I took the sight of them in...the most precious parts of my life. And I realized that this was the life I dreamed of living.
I am living my dreams!
I mean, sure. In my actual dream life I was probably healthier, thinner, richer and a better housekeeper. But in that moment I was deeply fulfilled with the outcome thus far. Whatever parts of the dream I'm missing in my life, I know I have the capacity to get them if I pursue them. Those are just choices. But all the hard work to get to this moment is done.
There was something else about that moment at the bottom of the stairs, thought. In that moment I realized I had always lived the life I dreamed. I've always been single. I've had this home and dogs for 15 years. I've always had friends and hobbies. For the most part, my business has always been good. I'm alive and kicking. I have the money I need to make do. I have things I believe in and passions I pursue. I make good choices, for the most part. I'm a positive influence. And I think I'm kinda cool. :D I've been that way all along. I just wasn't taking the time out to enjoy it...to view it from the bottom of the stairs in warmly lit light.
So the past few days I've been noticing all the ways I put off my truly appreciative headspace in favor of pretty much everything from work to worrying. This isn't the first time it has occurred to me. We work our jobs, then come home and cook and take care of the family and go to bed and get up and do it again. And we forget to mull over the question, "what are we doing all this for?" If we don't have moments...hours...even days of living in the wonderful moment of "this is what I've always wanted and it's beautiful", then what is the prize in the bottom of our Cracker Jacks?
Why do we put that sheer enjoyment of life as a last priority? And I'm not talking about going out with your friends and laughing your ass off. That's part of it, sure. But I'm talking about walking in the blessed realization that you have what you always wanted and anything you don't have, you can make happen. Not everyone has that luxury in this world, but I'll bet most of you do...if you get out of that worrying-striving-planning-reflecting-doing-rushing-regretting-fixing-caring-for-and-trying-harder-to-be-something-else-occupied mind of yours.
It's not just about gratitude. It's about putting some of that other energy toward simply loving the life you already have...sitting right in the moment and in the midst of your beautiful life. You can still think about the life you want to have and the things you need to change, because that's how dreams are achieved. But, really, when did you ever devote as much time to consciously loving and appreciating what you have—without countering that thought with all the things that are missing from it that would make it that much more perfect? I'm guessing it's the rare person who spends more time in "look at the wonderful life I've created" than they do even in "what color sweater shall I put on today?" It's sad, but we all get caught up in life's noise.
In a few days, I'll turn 52. The last year or two of my life have felt challenging at times, but now I can see why I've struggled on so many levels—the benefits that have come. As we get older, the mind starts clearing out a little and it's easier to recapture some of your mindshare for appreciating your life. Of course, you can do that at any age, but I'm finding that letting go of counter-productive thoughts is easier now.
As you age, you also get more and more glimpses of your mortality. And so I've been thinking a lot about "what is all this for?" And the answer I got was "for you to realize how precious the life you have right now is...how worthy it is of your efforts." There's something in our human nature that has us always looking toward the horizon. But one of the best benefits of age and experience, I think, is to learn how to finally see the beauty of what's right in front of you.