The World We Had
more thoughts about the same shit I keep thinking about
“If you could go back and tell your 21 year old self something, what would it be?”
I wish I was someone who could answer that question with something inspiring like, “never give up!” or “believe in yourself!” but honestly, I think I’d say, “You’re not fat”.
As middle age softens every inch of my body, heart, and spirit, I think about how my 21 year old self had no idea how beautiful her body, heart and spirit were, instead she was dissatisfied with all of it nearly every day of her life.
What a monumental waste.
So, yeah, I wish I could go back and tell myself “OMG, Enjoy it!”.
For now, until time machines are invented, all I can do is to try and nourish, move and love this 52 year old body, so that in 30 years I won’t be stuck wishing I had appreciated it more.
I feel the same about the world right now. And the world we had.
(click below for an essay on having compassion toward our bodies)
Did we miss it?
Not to be a huge bummer, but even as someone who is not terribly prone to catastrophic thinking, I have to admit that given the news about inflation, climate change, the war in Ukraine, the global pandemic, voter suppression and the make-up of the US Supreme Court, I’m starting to wonder: had we been living in the most peaceful, prosperous, stable time in history and we didn't realize it? Pre 2020 were we too busy thinking “Is this all there is?” or “I’ll be happy when I (fill in the blank)” to realize that it was never going to be that easy again?*
And if this is true, if the most prosperous, peaceful, stable days of our lives are behind us*, then how do we squeeze every single drop of joy, and love and life out of the days ahead? How do we appreciate what we still have enough that, if it is all taken away, our selves 20 years from now won’t, given the opportunity, say “you should have appreciated what you had”.
I mean, if I am wrong and the days and years ahead will get better rather than worse, then I’ve lost nothing by living these days with more vibrancy than I have been. (Honestly I am still struggling with the malaise of Covidtide. It is a struggle to leave the apartment. Shit, it’s a struggle to leave the SOFA).
“We should do this more”
Last week Eric and I went out for dinner with our friends Tim and Clover. We hadn’t shared a meal with them for six months and the whole time, I just sat there thinking “we should do this more”.
Eat delicious food.
Hang out with friends.
Be outside more.
Tell people “I love you” whenever I have the opportunity.
Say yes to fun things, even though I still want to shelter in place forever.
Carpe the fucking diem.
I’m saying all of this because this week I said “yes” to an adventure (the details of which I am keeping to myself for now), even though it is a little scary.
At first I thought, “but the world is falling apart . . . so, no.”
But then I thought, “but the world is falling apart. . . so, yes!”
That’s either self-justification, or it’s wisdom - I am hoping it’s wisdom.
When Martin Luther was asked “what would you do if you knew the world was going to end tomorrow?” he reportedly answered “If the world was to end tomorrow I would plant a tree today.”
If the world were ending he would respond by loving the world.
God, help me savor now what I will miss when it’s gone. Help me practice being the person today I regret not being in the past. Help me to love my future self enough to be as healthy as I can today even though all I really want to do is eat cookies and watch pretty-good TV since I’m pretty sure I’ve already watched the really good stuff.
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READ my NYT bestselling memoirs: Pastrix; The Cranky, Beautiful Faith Of A Sinner & Saint (Re-released 2021), Accidental Saints; Finding God In All The Wrong People(2015) and SHAMELESS; A Sexual Reformation (2019).
*insert obligatory “I know that not everyone was prosperous and had a peaceful life and that nothing I am saying applies to all the experiences of all the people everywhere and for all time” caveat here.