I looked in the mirror today and had an overwhelming sense of time passing. That happens to me almost continuously now – a sense that time is running out and the best, or at least the majority, of my life is behind me. The youth, the ability to direct my life’s path – gone. Where I am now is who I am and the whole thing equals what I’ve become and the legacy I’ll leave, which is…
When I was young I let myself off the hook often for my mistakes, feeling that my life was just starting and there were plenty of years to define who I was. The mistakes would get overwhelmed with the successes, surely? But then I hit adulthood, and I started to feel that my mistakes were of more monumental proportions; the hurts I caused were more severe, the choices more indelible, the relationships I was losing – my mother, my father - more and more substantial and irretrievable. By the time I reached middle age I had regret. Not just minor disappointments, but big, serious opportunities lost and life choices I’d give years off my life to undo. I’d made mistakes, done things wrong, broken things I’d valued to such a degree that I felt the hope and possibility of youth slipping away. By age fifty, I had sorrow, guilt, and at least some degree of all the major negative emotions that come with getting it wrong and screwing it up. I looked at people who had lived safer, ‘cleaner’ lives, and kicked myself daily for all the stupid mistakes I’d made.
And I can’t undo it. I’ll never be fresh-faced, unsullied, naïve or innocent ever again. I’ve told too many lies, spoken too many harsh words, broken too many promises to ever be that girl again. And there’s tread on these tires and on this face. Faster and faster I am turning from the young, fertile woman to the crone – that female figure in Shakespearean literature, devoid of promise, who has been beaten down by life and loss, bad choices and inner darkness. My life is sliding past and I can't stop it, and I have yet to make my mark for good in this world.
I suspect others feel like this – especially other women. That sense of panic – of terror – that ‘it’s all slipping away’. But nobody says it. We’re all so busy trying to convey a sense of success, a sense of contentment. At the very least we portray ourselves as domestic martyrs, wives and mothers worn out through trying so hard, making such an effort, for family, friends, or our community. A sense of being 'good people'. Nobody wants to say “I blew it. I had one life and I’ve screwed it up.”
Well this is my confession; I didn’t work hard enough, I wasn’t honest enough, or loyal enough. I was too lazy, too self indulgent, too selfish. In the continual scrambling to get to a place of ‘ok’ – of ‘safe’ - I missed being the best I could be - or perhaps much good to this world at all.
I don’t know – and will never know – what I could have become or what I could have achieved had I put my head down and truly tried, had I worked out my goal and gone straight towards it, deviating neither to the left hand nor to the right. That dream is dead and I will never know, and I am overwhelmed with regret and panic when I see the sand in my personal hour glass running away without pause and me being no closer to reaching some identifiable, valuable destination. No success, no definition, no sense of “I did this and this is who I am.” I’ve heard doctors say that it’s almost impossible to get an unhealthy person to change their life habits and that the dependence this society has on medication is because people simply won’t lose weight, stop smoking or drinking, take up exercise and adopt a truly healthy lifestyle. I’ve heard those same doctors say that the one window of opportunity they have to make people change is directly after their first heart attack; that that period of time represents the one open door for their patients to move from ‘here’ to ‘there’. Well, middle age was my emotional heart attack. It was my crisis of identity. This is my now or never moment.
Afraid of taking a leap, I have hovered on the precipice of indecision for decades wondering what I should DO with my life – till that life has almost passed me by. Fifty may not seem old to some, but my parents died at ages 52 and 58, so this is a significant decade for me. Part of me wants to stay frozen, like a rabbit staring into the oncoming headlights. But something else in my heart has stirred, which whispers in my ear “Do it now, Kareyn. Do it NOW.”
I have been sure of two things in my life; that I love Jesus and that I am supposed to write. Be it books, blogs, poems or letters, as sure as I am of my religion, I’m sure my gift is with words and that words are powerful. The pen truly is mightier than the sword. So to this end I thank God daily for this gift and pick up my ‘pen’ and write. I have three more books to go in the Prism series, one coffee table book to write with a friend, and then my time will perhaps be my own, to blog, to write poems and stories for little children – simply to add joy and innocence to the world. I have a passion also for animals in pain - emotional or physical – and I’m doing what I can to raise awareness on the issues associated with their plight. Words are my gift, and I’m trying to use them judiciously, sparingly, accurately, healingly, joyfully, and quickly.
Will it be enough? Will I feel as though the contribution made will justify my existence, or even balance out the mistakes I’ve made and the black marks I’ll leave on this world? I feel as though I’m trying to shift a mountain with a teaspoon while somebody with a dump truck continually deposits loads of dirt and rubble on top of its peak. Will I ever make a difference? Is it even possible?
Underneath the panic, underneath the feelings of failure, speaks a still, quiet voice:
“Dig, Koo. Dig.”
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old received divine approval.….These all died in faith, not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it plain that they are looking for a homeland, and if they had in mind the country from which they went out, they would have had a chance to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”
Hebrews 11: 1, 2, 13-16.