The first was realizing I’d aged out of joining the military. It was something I’d always kept as an option. It had its attractions. I could simply join the Navy and go see the world, except a day came when it was no longer possible: I was too old.
That was a long time ago and had nearly been forgotten, until last week. While watching a British mystery set in a country house built before the American Revolution, I thought, “Guess I’ll probably never visit a place like that”.
Yes, I could stand in line, pay for my ticket, and go on a tour, but that is not what I had hoped for. Back in the recesses of youthful dreams, I’d always wanted to be invited to such a place, to belong there as a guest, not a tourist.
Over the next few days, other expectations bubbled up to the surface of my consciousness and reminded me of more that once seemed possible, but is no longer. I’ve got a couple of great books in me, and that is where they are most likely to stay. A romance with a foreign heiress is not in my future, nor was she in my past. I’ll never bum around Europe. I won’t deliver a monologue on late night TV. There will be no round-the-world cruise and I will probably never get to the North Pole.
The list goes on and on. These unrealized dreams do not diminish the wonderfully adventurous life I am enjoying. They are just skeletons from my “Maybe Closet” — things I hoped to do, that other things have crowded to the back, and time has passed them by.
Rather than causing regrets, this Grieving Lost Possibilities has been liberating. It has eased my load of things left undone. Acknowledging and setting them aside has been a lightening of my soul. A few carried me back to the energetic youth I once was. Mostly, though, they were simply dismissed with a few fond thoughts and a sense of relief.
I have other possibilities now, or blessings as I have come to call them: a loving wife, a marvelous home, a job I still enjoy doing and can continue at as long as I am able. Now, the possibilities are close to home and reflect who I am, rather than who I might become. They include the many books on the shelves in my study which I’ve yet to read, a lifelong dream of driving across the country and back with someone I love . . . yes, this list goes on and on, too.
So, I have cleared out the dustiest items in my “Maybe Closet”. Sad to throw out some of the old things, but great to let in a little fresh air and room for more.
Aging in Place, it doesn’t happen by accident and it sometimes requires doing a little house cleaning.