Updated: Sep 25, 2021
"It is such a great moment of liberation when you learn to forgive yourself,
let the burden go, and walk out
into a new path of promise and possibility."
-Fr. John O'Donohue
"I have more summers behind me than in front of me." That fun fact, which statistically applies to me, comes care of NY Times columnist Charles Blow in his excellent essay, "My Second Phase of Adulthood". I found the piece very comforting and inspiring, that startling piece of math notwithstanding, and it would appear a lot of other people do. When I took the rare step of sharing the column on social media I saw it widely re-shared by friends and followers. We are the generation currently navigating the deaths of parents (and friends) and forming adult relationships with our children. We're taking a hard look at the lessons learned on the road traveled so far, and seeing how they apply to the new territory ahead. To this end, one piece of wisdom from Mr. Blow's piece has been very much on my mind:
I have started to manage my regrets and to reduce them, to forgive myself for foolish mistakes and reckless choices, to remember that we are all just human beings stumbling through this life, trying to figure it out, falling down and getting back up along the way. I have learned to cut myself some slack and get on with being a better person.
There are a lot of places I want to go in my "Second Phase of Adulthood"--both literally and figuratively. And none of the places I want to journey to on this planet or in my growth of a person require a lot of baggage. Quite the opposite; the lighter I travel the happier I'll be. This won't be a problem when it comes to jetting off to corners of the world that intrigue me; I've gotten pretty good at traveling light.
My personal journey, however, is a different story. I still find myself weighed down by unnecessary baggage, and almost all of it has to do with the difficulty I have in giving myself the same level of grace and forgiveness that I try real hard to extend to others in my life. No one irks me and disappoints me more than my own damn self, to the point where I sometimes feel like I'm dragging along a steamer trunk packed with regrets over things I should have or should not have said and done. However many seasons any of us have in front of us, it's just a number, and life should be measured by quality as opposed to quantity. I'm as ready for the adventures ahead as I've ever been in my life, and perhaps more compelled than ever to grow into a person who only impacts the world around them in positive ways. And I'm starting to figure out how to get there from where I am. It's to take with me the essentials--lessons learned, particularly the ones hard-learned--and to leave the rest of the baggage on the side of the road.