We are getting close to the halfway mark on the year - for me, the last year before 30. I set very few goals this time around, trying to pick just a few with the power to change my life. One, was get a dog. And boy has she changed our lives. For the better for sure too - I feel like we're more engaged, we have to be. And while it's tiring that we can't just cuddle up on the couch whenever we want (because landshark loves to attack whatever she can reach when we sit on the couch), we're going for more walks, we're out in our yard, we're having conversations and learning new things and trying different problem solving. Plus, she's a loving little fur ball that knows we're her people and that's a pretty fantastic thing to be the recipient of! She's amazing. And we're pretty sure she's going to be a really cool dog as she continues to grow up.
Another goal was to go outside more. Which as mentioned, Magnolia Grey helps with quite a lot. ;) Though as the summer warms up I hope we'll use our weekends for more camping, hiking and all around exploring.
There are a few others as well, some I thought I'd have checked off by now. And I could have, but it would be jumping the gun, giving myself the quick release we all crave. And right now, I'm learning some really important lessons. After a looooooong time of John asking me night after night questions that surmount to "what can you do to change this?" And me getting annoyed because I felt like he was making the situation smaller than it was - if I could change it, I would, duh..... I guess I'm learning that I can change it. Or some of it maybe. Or I can at least make a strategic plan and follow the uncomfortable steps week by week in order to change the situation even if I can't change the people. And that's a pretty remarkable lesson - you can't change people. But you can change situations. You might still find that it's not the right situation for you to be in, especially if the people refuse to make changes themselves - but learning that you have the power to change the situation you are in, the structure of the environment, and building up the power and conviction to create those changes - through a very tiring and long process... that's something worth going on the annual goals list. Don't you think?
Another item on my list, which gives me a very similar feeling is my Guardian's List goal. I've been reading through the Guardian's list of the top 100 novels ever written since I worked at LLF, about 5 years ago. (Right?) I average about 5 books a year off the list, that is typically my goal. This year, I decided I wanted to be halfway done with the list by my 30th birthday! That meant 14 books from the list in 12 months. Which may not sound incredibly challenging, but to a slow reader like me - it is! So here I am in a marathon of reading I feel - book after book after book. I have 6 months left to go, and 10 books!
These aren't the only two goals that require this slow, daily, constant attention. Like rolling a giant ball one revolution day after day after day - hoping you're moving forward. I so badly want to just start making ruckus and crossing off boxes! But I guess that's not what this year is about. This year is little and a lot. Little, little, little and a lot.
Life isn't fair. It's tough. It's sweet. It's unforgiving. It's only too generous. It's a cold-hearted mistress. If anything, it's unpredictable and unreliable.
When my sister administered a marriage exam out of her book yesterday, John listed my core life values as: love people well and be consistent. Something like that. I thought "yes! That's it." I added, "and be true." He'd boiled me down so well!
That's right. In this unreliable world - I'll be reliable. And I'll love the people who are reliable for me. Consistently kind - to my face, and when I turn around. To me, that is everything.
This morning I'm thinking I might have things wrong - not the kind - love - true part... but the whole over-intense value of working hard, following through, chewing whatever you bite off... even when swallowing it makes you gag. Which is of course the living out of 'love - reliable - kind' for two people who love to make big promises and dream even bigger!
I'm kind of a pain in the ass wife sometimes. Too often I remind John "this is the life we chose." It's a sort of quiet threat, don't complain and don't you dare quit. So we work and we work and we work. I didn't realize this quiet threat before of course, because I've been saying it to myself for a decade - maybe two. And there's certainly value in the message. I think the world would be a lot better with about 200% more follow through. In fact, it's one of the things that drew me to John - his kindness, his follow through, his sincerity.
Still, I'm regularly baffled by how EVERYONE loves him. Don't get me wrong, I think he's the greatest person alive. But there are a lot of great people out there that get misunderstood and 'disliked' in a moment's breath. It's like a rule of life: People get misunderstood and judged. Not John. I've only ever seen people love him immediately. And while I'm sure there's more to it than this - a major part of it is, he's kind. He won't say a bad word about you - and somehow, people must be able to feel that immediately. He must put off a silent message that echoes in a passerby. And it says a lot more I'm sure, but to me that echo said, "kind - honest - trustworthy - fun."
And that fun, man! When I'm reminded that this life could end at any moment, I only wish for more fun! Because life, it isn't reliable. And it isn't always kind. Life is as generous as you want it to be, but it will deal you out joys and agonies in wild measures. And life doesn't listen to my silent threats.
Like I've said, I'm not a minimalist. I don't see "simple". I'm trying! I want to! But, right now I see a complex equation I'm trying to balance - kind, true, loving, consistent, fun, they are all in there to some power. A life well-lived means little moments and big moments. Spending ourselves in little and big ways to make big impacts in little and big places. It means working hard even when it's inconvenient. But it also means enjoying your people.
If I were to be given the '6 months' - I'd want to spend every moment I could cuddling, hiking, gardening, dancing, playing, kissing. The fun! But, after those 6 months, I'd want to be remembered for great kindness too. I'd want to be remembered as someone who was there - a person always up for a good time, and never scared away by a bad one. Perhaps it is the difference between, what memories do I want to have versus what legacy do I want to leave?
How do you balance that when as far as you know, you have a lifetime?