In September 2002, I spent all of my free time gearing up for my big bike ride in October. Everything in the preceding weeks had something to do with the ride: buying gel bike pants, researching the best gloves, trying out pedals, getting my bike tuned and re-tuned, buying tires, adjusting the handlebars so my back wouldn't hurt, trying energy bars that wouldn't make me barf, decorating my water bottle, riding, stretching. The day of the ride arrived, and I was on my bike doing the first ten out of 80 miles and I was still thinking about the ride as if it was a future event. And suddenly it dawned on me: HOLY CRAP! This IS the ride! I am riding! Everything I have worked for has brought me to this moment, the one I am currently in at this second. This moment right here. Now. I was chomping at the bit to get on that bike and start the grueling ride, and here I was doing it, and I practically missed the first ten miles because my mind was still in prep mode.
I am 33 years old. When I was a teenager, I couldn't wait until I was 18 and could go to college. When I was in college, everything I did was to prepare myself for when I got out of college. When I got out of college, everything I did was to prepare myself for the big things I'd do when I was in my 30s.
Well guess what.
I'm here. I've arrived.
I'm in my 30s. Everything I've learned, prepared and geared up for has been for this moment.
I am a grown up. I am my own dog. What I am and the manner in which I choose to spend my time are my decisions.
I will never be healthier, I will never have parents who are any younger, I will probably not have a job that pays me exponentially more than this. My voice will never be in better shape, my skin will never be less wrinkled, and my vision will never be better. What am I saving myself for? What am I waiting for?
My mom said to me at dinner the other night that she thinks I like to live for the moment, and I don't plan well.
My response: Damn straight. I could be dead tomorrow.
The time is NOW.
The clock is ticking.
The time is NOW.
I would rather regret doing something than regret doing nothing.
With that said, an anecdote:
My friend Brian has always admited Art Carney. He knows almost every episode of The Honeymooners by heart. He's always wanted to meet him; I mean, who wouldn't want to meet the artist they most admire?
Last year, Brian read in the paper that Art Carney was ill and in a hospital in Connecticut, and was probably going to die soon. Brian researched the name of the hospital and wrote him a letter asking if he could meet him. He didn't get a response.
Brian wrote again, and again received no response.
He could feel the clock ticking, and he called the hospital asking if he could talk to Art for just a moment, and they said that "Mr. Carney was not available."
Brian read a few days later that Art Carney's health had taken a turn for the worse, so he jumped in his car and drove to Connecticut to the hospital, and asked to see the actor. The nurses wouldn't let him in when they found out he wasn't a relative. He asked to speak to one of the family members, and they said that they wouldn't allow him to visit. Brian asked one last time and was again turned away. So he went home.
Art Carney died shortly thereafter.
Brian is consoled by knowing that he did everything in his power to see Art Carney before he passed away. Had he sat home and done nothing, he would always have to live with that regret... but instead, Brian knows he did everything he could. It's officially not his fault.
So on this one-year anniversary of the shittiest day in my life when I was dumped harder than I had ever been dumped before, I have these thoughts:
The reason why that breakup destroyed me so completely is because I gave that relationship every ounce of energy I had. I sacrificed everything (including a large chunk of dignity) to make it work, yet I was still told "Nope, you're not good enough." The indestructible marble pillar of strength that was once The Mighty Xtingu was crumbled and flamed into cinders; adding water didn't put me back together, it just made a muddy paste. I never thought I'd be able to get through it. Ever.
But even during the hell of healing, I was comforted in knowing that I did everything I could to save it. Had we broken up at the first sign of discomfort, I always would have wondered what would have happened if I had just tried this one other thing, or if I just got this one little point across. There would have been a crack in the door: unfinished business. No resolution. The inability to move on. Hope. But staying together as long as we did gave me the chance to say my piece, to plead my case and to try with all my might. And when the answer was no, the answer was no. The day I finally accepted that the door was closed, it closed for good and I hammered that f-er shut.
Out of the ashes rose a stronger Jill: one who had a clear idea of what she wanted, what she'd be willing to accept and what she simply wouldn't settle for. And once that bit flipped and she decided it was time to get back into the game, a kir-addled ninja hung a gyft on her doorknob from three blocks away.
I should send Mr. Dump a bouquet of roses, thanking him for the gift of singledom... for without it, there'd be no badder, stronger, surer me, and no magical ninja adventure.
Itís all good.
So, so good. :-)