Crossroads — by Margaret Nelson


“You shouldn’t complain about getting older, it’s a privilege denied to many.”

Someone sent me an email last year, with this quote serving as a letterhead for her correspondence that week. I’ve kept it on my desktop ever since, and have been getting a lot of mileage out of it. I’m lucky enough to have got older, and along with the visual body changes and a growing collection of minor aches and pains, I’m also aware of a few pleasant surprises that came with the territory.

Gratitude is a natural skill that we all probably have, but I finally understand that by practicing this simple mental exercise I have the power to make or break my day. We have thousands of experiences during our waking hours, most of them happening below our radar screens of attention. The ones that often end up getting our attention are the unpleasant ones, and they can suck up our precious time while discoloring our world. These can be pivotal moments, opportunities to find something in the unpleasant that turns the bad feeling around.

It’s getting easier to choose my battles these days, and to let go of the illusion that I have control over anything beyond my own actions and thoughts; I also seem to be developing the ability to discern what is truly important in my life; of equal importance is recognizing what is not.

And this year I made my best New Year’s resolution ever: I am creating annual bucket lists, instead of THE Bucket List. I’m actually getting smaller, enjoyable things done that were once relegated to the vague “someday” list, languishing in limbo while the “shoulds” ruled. Time flies whether you’re having fun or not…………