It happened again the other day. I heard about someone who had switched careers and was now working in early intervention, visiting families to provide services to newly diagnosed babies. She was doing this amid raising her own children and during a pandemic. Rather than being inquisitive, I began to chide myself — If only YOU had pursued this career. Why aren’t YOU visiting families? Too busy binge watching Bridgerton?? I became both victim and bully, a feat that one can perfect when one is retired and sitting on one’s bed watching a frigid snow globe out the window. (I am also practiced in the art of becoming my dear mother, whose approval was never quite attainable, just one tennis trophy away, one number on the scale too far.)
We all have our If Only’s – self-generated voices citing regrets. If only you had applied yourself in school, gone to a better school, gone to school, written a book, exercised more, eaten less, not said those words, said those words, forgiven someone, forgiven yourself, asked for forgiveness, taken more risks, loved more, compared less.
What is the anecdote to this If-Only cycle of regret – the epitome of unproductive thinking? This time of isolation offers us opportunity to take a step back and sift the practical from the impractical and identify what we CAN do in our baby boomer years. First, we are probably not going to embark on a medical career; we won’t be sharing our research with Dr. Fauci or stumble on the cure for cancer. In fact, we will not be embarking on ANY career. That time has passed. We should come to terms with the fact that we will not be on the next flight to Mars, or be seeded at the next Wimbledon.
Those If Only’s need to disperse and find younger folks in the dreaming stage of mid-stream. We are nearing the water’s edge, soon to be propelled to an ocean’s merging. We have to take inventory of the time we have left, the days fully in our purview. There is potential in the word NOW. It implies a second chance, a rising up with the energy of an espresso and a new morning brewing.
We can’t play on Wimbledon’s grassy stage, but we can dream about sitting in the stands. We won’t be visiting a family to provide therapy, but we can pray for babies and dream about holding them while their harried, young parents deal with untold stresses. We can’t work side by side with amazing Dr. Fauci, but we can help an elderly person secure an elusive vaccine appointment, or bring a fruit basket to those suffering the ravages of Covid. We likely won’t write a best selling children’s book, but we can buy one and volunteer at the local school, or if we are blessed to have them, read to our grand babies.
It is said that to whom much is given, much is expected. Many of us have been given much. So instead of saying, If only, we should be saying, “If only today…” In other words, let’s live life as if THIS is the only day we have.
All that said, if you were to accidentally refer to me as Dr. Marcell, I may not correct you. And as for Bridgerton, let’s be grateful we were not born into the British Regency era with its confining corsets and unyielding caste system, irrespective of that impossibly handsome duke. And don’t you dare think, If only… 🙂
Joy here with my two-cents contribution to today’s post, which was originally intended to be light and airy —
I watched Bridgerton in three sittings, definitely fitting the binge description. For three afternoons, breaking my no-tv-during-the-day retirement rule, I was swept away to a period of opulence, debauchery, elegance, ridiculous over the top social stratification and objectification of women (Gloria Steinem would be screaming!) I loved every morsel, every crumb, but in this bleak winter of snow, bitter cold, and smashing records of every kind, I was transported to a fairy tale land of gorgeous people, exquisite settings, and sumptuous costumes. So no profound thoughts. My wonderful writing partner has taken care of those earlier in this post, but just a pure unadulterated confession that sometimes, escaping to a magical place, whether in literature, film, or tv is okay.
-NOW is telling you to take a walk, between those eight foot snow drifts and be grateful you have legs to support you.
-Make it a prayer walk. Covid is still raging.
-Your Duke may be the one you are currently sharing your life with.
Enjoy the ride!
Joy and Barclay