I used to spend most of my time looking ahead. Now I spend a lot of time looking back. I'm pretty sure this reflecting is supposed to happen later in life, but with the traumas of the last two years, I've changed (perhaps into an 80 year old little lady in a 28 year old's body).
I'm not sure at what point I stop looking back to 2008. Everything is viewed in terms of "Before the fire" (or "BF" at our house) and "After." When I reflect on 2010, I am actually reflecting on the last two years, viewing my year through the lens of a woman whose life changed in the course of an hour. I think back on the person I was before the fire and make comparisons. Maybe it's because I'm immersed in writing about the fire right now. Or maybe I really will be an eighty year old woman, sitting in my chair, talking about the summer of 2008 and the person I thought I'd become. And instead, the person I did become.
Twenty-eight. Less than two years to thirty. I attended a seminar four or five years ago about goal setting. I was a planner. Two days of listening, of creating lists of how I envisioned my life would be. A millionaire at thirty I wrote. A foster mom. On my way to creating a camp for foster kids. One hundred items of ambition, drive, a plan.
Nowhere on that list was there "Home burns down" or "chronic illness." I expected to be conquering the world, not quietly watching it go by. But, you know what? I'm not always sad about those events. The person before the fire couldn't possibly imagine the person I was going to become. Maybe she needed these huge life altering events to make meaningful change.
I've learned you don't get to plan your obstacles. And worrying about potential threats does you little good because usually those aren't the things that are going to actually stand in your way. You probably couldn't even possibly prepare for the life changing moments ahead. And there's no use wasting energy on anything but the day, the moment in front of us.
I've learned to live in the moment. I never thought it would be possible for ME, Ms. Five Year Plan, to stop and live in this exact moment, enjoy the laughter of a two year old without thinking about who he'd be in first grade. I can sit and watch the birds. Or look at the stars. And just sit. Who knew?! Part of this change is grounded in fear, fear that I won't live to tomorrow, fear that some new devastation is lurking right around the corner. And that is unfortunate because it often clouds my ability to see the absolute beauty of this moment. But I'm working on letting go of that fear because I know that tomorrow is out of my control.
I've also learned through the last two years to let go of my need to save the world. In planning out my life, I thought that it was my job to save everyone else from their own life and circumstances. If I could protect them all from making mistakes, then I would have lived a productive life. I don't have the energy to do that now, and I've actually come to believe that trying to save people from their own mistakes is actually not helpful at all. That's not to say I don't value caring and compassion and giving. I do very much value those things. But I have let go of the need to save others. And that's allowed me to direct my energy to helping in more constructive ways.
This is the week for RESOLUTIONS. But I don't believe in making unnecessary promises. Change doesn't happen on January 1. For me, change started on August 25, 2008, but it is ever evolving. I hope for a calm 2011, but I don't worry about it because I know I can only focus on today, and if life throws us another curve ball this year, I'll worry about it then.