The holidays were behind her; decorations stuffed in the attic until next year.
She liked gussying up the living room every December, but there was also a sense of relief once the house was restored to a less chaotic, more familiar décor.
Breathing in the return to normalcy while sitting on a weathered wood bench on the back deck, a cool breeze gently tussled her hair; causing her to pull tighter around her neck the red fleece sweatshirt; raising the zipper high to help block the chill. With both hands clamped around the mug of hot tea between her palms, she savored its radiance as it emanated from the ceramic, warming not only her hands but her soul. Try as she might, she had not been able to find a flavored tea that replaced the bold satisfaction of morning coffee, but tea didn’t impact her stomach unfavorably. “Ah, the sacrifices one makes to Geras,” she thought, amusingly surprised that she remembered the name of the Greek God of Aging.
She sighed and redirected her attentiveness to the untidy back plank fence bordered by weeds attempting to reclaim their space. “The back yard really needs attention,” she considered, but knew there were yet several more weeks of winter and nothing would get done until the gray cleared and the rain stopped.
“No need to concern myself with that now…” Her thoughts drifted and she trailed, letting them lead wherever they might stroll.
“Another new year,” she mused, holding tighter the mug, hoping to claim a bit more heat. She pondered what was in store for the coming months.
She didn’t make resolutions; they were merely repeating the unkept promises she of last year; as she tried to catch up with those from the year prior, which were actually tasks undone from the year before that. At some point, why bother? “Just do your best and keep moving forward,” was as close to a New Year’s resolution as she came.
Yet, the newness of another January was not lost on her. With the changing of the calendar, there came a freshness, a bloom of new possibility for the time ahead. A clean slate was laid out in front of her, what would she do with it?
It was getting harder to say she was still “middle aged;” after all, few folks make it to 120. Was this where she expected to be in her sixties? She contemplated that for a moment and realized she didn’t have an answer. Was it a myth that some kids knew exactly who whey wanted to be from their first day? That had never been who she was; instead following a more meandering road.
“Retirement, what a concept,” she thought.
Many of her close friends, after having spent decades in a nine-to-five, walled off behind a cubicle; were now starting to collect pensions. Some were traveling, or spending times with grandkids — or both. Others pursued long-hibernating passions they had put on hold since their twenties. A twinge of envy flittered across her emotional horizon; there would be no retirement party for her, her course would continue until she decided it was at its end. And even then, what would that look like? Would she simply wake up one morning and declare, “I’m now officially retired,” awarding herself a watch and a cake?
“Did I really choose this?” she asked herself, “Or did I just let it happen?”
Shaking her head to clear her thoughts, she recalled the choices that brought her to this place. What if she would have finished college instead of pursuing her craft? How about if she had married someone wealthy? Everything would have been different, she pondered, a pinch of melancholy seasoning her mood.
A song drifted across her thoughts, something about a woman who died and was sweating her interview with Saint Peter, who was going to look up in some colossal journal every decision — good or bad — that she ever did, and then decree where she will spend all eternity. “Will I have done enough to get into Heaven?” the singer wondered. Enter the chorus: “There’s nothing I can do about it now.” Might as well relax; it’s too late to change it.
“Yep, nothing I can do about it now,” she reminded herself and exhaled deeply the tension that she didn’t realize she was even carrying until that moment.
Whether planned or not, no one could argue that she was her own woman; traveling her own road; pursuing her own dreams; following her own uncharted course. She assumed there yet more twists and turns ahead; in those lie possibilities and dreams. “Who knows what’s in store? I might yet be in for some exciting times.”
Her elderly orange cat, tired of being ignored, hopped onto her lap, brushed its head against the warm mug and snuggled into her lap, purring loudly. Transferring the mug into one hand, she stroked the cat’s fur as they both stared out into the dreary, unkept lawn.
“Life is good. Thank you,” she said to no one in particular, and smiled as she sipped some tea. “Not a bad flavor at all…”
About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is the CRP (Chief Recovering Perfectionist) of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com. He is available for coaching, speaking, and reminders of what really matters at 707.442.6243, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.facebook.com/ThisTimeIMeanIt.