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Friday, November 5, 2010

"Afterwards"

I'm sulking this week because I'm facing another birthday. I stood in line at the license bureau and contemplated my driver's license. I swear I've aged too much in the 4 years since the last picture. It was so different when I stood in line to get my fake ID as a teenager. This time I paid $80 for a little plastic sticker for my license plate and a crappier picture than I had before. It just doesn't seem fair. I'd like my $80 and 20 years back.

Of course we can't undo or redo things we've already lived through, but I wonder about some of the decisions I've made along the way. Where would my life be if I'd taken the job at Hallmark? What if I'd moved out after I threw the engagement ring across the room? I'm living with all the "afterwards" of my decisions. I don't really regret them, but sometimes I've just got to pause and wonder what if?

Part of the thing of youth is that "afterwards" don't get considered very much. If it sounds fun, let's do it! Experience let's me know drinking too much causes hangovers, spending too much causes debt, and most importantly, I'm not immune to those kinds of things. Wisdom makes life somewhat less fun, and I'm not even sure it makes us any more secure a lot of the time. There's got to be a proper balance between taking chances and hanging onto security.

When I was in Girl Scouts, my troop went camping in winter where there was a swimming pool with a thin layer of ice on top. One of the brilliant counselors suggested breaking the ice and "polar bear" swimming. A line of skinny little girls stood shivering in our bathing suits and looked at her like she was nuts. Eventually I decided I was cold either way, so I jumped in and started swimming. A few girls followed my lead, and the rest watched from the sidelines. Good thing we didn't die of pneumonia while we were led back to the lodge wrapped in towels, shivering hard enough to cause an earthquake, while listening to a lecture about "character building".

Since it didn't kill me, I think maybe it did build some character. I learned I had some leadership abilities, could make my own choices, and it's okay to take some risks. Sometimes we do have to jump into the ice, and even though I'm faced with another birthday, I'm not so old I can't jump in if I feel like it.



10 comments:

  1. Take the plunge and have an extra large piece of cake to celebrate your day! It's good for the soul, no matter how many years we accumulate, and birthday cakes are calorie free...Besides, I can only see ten candles! Happy Birthday! Enjoy! :o)

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  2. Maybe I neglected to put a couple candles on? Glad to know b'day cake is calorie free!

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  3. Great story, it really made me smile Linda. I am also a firm believer in Friedrich Nietzche's quote "That which does not kill us makes us stronger". My life's journey has not been without some rather tricky moments but I really belive I am a stronger person now. I am quite happy in my skin and I do not think that was so at the age of 13!! Mind you that does not stop me wishing I did not behave like a teenager at my friend's recent party...hmmm alcohol does still does give quite a hangover-LOL. Have a GREAT birthday and "afterwards" look forward to the next ;0) Jane x

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  4. Thanks Jane! I'm happier in my skin too, but sometimes I can still wish that the skin was a little firmer :) I think if b'day cake is calorie-free, maybe we can't get b'day hangovers?

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  5. I hear you, and feel same, especially "I'm happier in my skin too, but sometimes I can still wish that the skin was a little firmer "...so true! Happy Birthday and nice illo!
    And thanks for stopping by my own IF submission and leaving a comment...much appreciated.

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  6. Hey Linda! Great post! you had me laughing out loud! (and I'm at the library). Great angle on afterward.Yare right... we are all living in our own personal afterwards ;o) Can't change it but we can make new afterwards ;o)

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  7. I thought you are the funny one Jack! Thanks :)

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  8. LOL! Honey, we just got our AARP cards, and let me tell you...It's liberating! Not only do you get discounts, when you're 50 you can be crotchety and nobody cares. When you act nice they are surprised, and all the character you spend half a century building? You figure out it's all so you have the confidence to be the person you always wanted to be!

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  9. Thanks Deb! I always thought the joy of getting older would be that's it's okay to be eccentric :) And discounts. I want the discounts!!

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