There is Still Time…
My still-new maple Matilda has just presented my yard with her first of the fall yellow, now turning fiery red, maple leaves.
This time of year for me (even though it will be 100 degrees in Denver today) is reflective. Somber.
Did I get done what I wanted? How did things turn out? How do I feel about it?
The encroaching fall season, by any measure my favorite if for no other reason than football and leaves, marks the long, slow slide into winter. As someone with the Bear Medicine Totem, for me that means to hibernate emotionally and spiritually, ponder the year and the lessons. With luck, to emerge in spring with new resolve, a new game plan.
This was a bitch of a year. The long-term BF dumped me on my 66th birthday in January, just as I had landed in Bali. That completely screwed my trip, which I spent bouncing from hospital to hospital with a chronic urinary problem.
The huge, gift-to-myself trip to Canada by horse was marked by mindless rookies who turned into bullies, which made each day a trial, even in some of the most gorgeous land on the face of the planet.
I came home with significant injuries. Right now I’m in a boot for stress fractures and thumb splints for the arthritis which showed up in the cold early mornings as I took down my tent in frosty weather.
Lost a friend. Gained a friend. Stripped my house to the walls, packed everything up for a move…to where I still have no clue. My once-lively house is a shell. That was intentional. It makes massive moves easier, but boy is it uncomfortable in the meantime.
Some of these things give me pause (Some give me paws, if you’ll pardon the pun). When I began the year, probably as you did, I had high hopes. I had just summitted Mt. Kenya. That also had side effects. Labral and hamstring tears, both legs.
I am damned rough on my body. My morning PT session takes a long time. I have a stack of exercises that would rival Tolstoy’s War and Peace.
I am avoiding the PT right now by writing (I’ll get there. Eventually. I have to or I can’t move.) I start my week with a Thai massage. That helps a lot.
Each of those events, while challenging, also led to solutions, answers, ideas and new directions. Not without pain. That’s a price I am willing to pay. I have largely solved the chronic health issue naturally, am learning the new ways my body has to be treated if it’s going to last, and have learned to set some new boundaries. That last one was fucking hard.
Worth it. But harder than all the injuries I’ve had combined.
So there were some big wins this year, woven, as always, into the fabric of losses, pain, frustration, and compromises.
There’s still time this year, just as there is for you.
What to do with this last quarter, then?
No matter how the year turned out thus far, there is plenty of time. Oodles of it in fact. Even though the September to December months, at least for me, whip by at warp speed. Especially as I age.
Now look, let’s be honest. I am not guaranteed this time, there is no surefire promise that I even have the next day, much less the next year. I do my best to fill each day with something terrific (even as my neighbor, That Asshole Jerry, cuts down Every Living Thing in his yard including the last beautiful gorgeous ash in the front. Mindless fuck, but I digress. He does make it easy to move and for that I’m grateful in an ass-backward kind of way). I live as fully as I can minute to minute but I sure as hell pack my future with as many marvels as possible, if for no other reason than to make sure I’ve got a shitload to look forward to- and boy, do I.
I recently committed to two more BHAGs: head to my long-awaited, and once-cancelled Mongolia. Research home life, live in gers, see the Eagle Festival. I leave on September 5th.
In addition, I committed to my long-desired, much-anticipated Ethiopia trip, by horse, at 12,000 feet. Not only that but two different side trips to see other parts of that fascinating country. I leave November 17th.
Long experience with adventure travel has taught me to curb my enthusiasm somewhat, as expectations have a terrible way of dropping us over a cliff when we hit the reality of shitty fellow travelers, lousy weather or our own physical limitations. However the other side of it is that I’ve learned how to manage my results. These two upcoming trips will give some things, perhaps take some things.
Like life. But for the next few months, I’ll be doing what I love, pushing myself. Exploring. Learning. Writing.
What will you do between now and the end of the year? Did you lose momentum? Did your diet/exercise plan/best laid plans fall short? Did your BHAG disintegrate under the weight of other priorities, shoved aside by kids or catastrophe?
Join a very large club.
Don’t do what I used to do. I used to think if I made a single slip, the whole day/year was a waste. Years ago, if I ate one donut in the morning, the whole day was sunk. I’d gorm shit all day and wake up even worse the next morning. One mistake, one face plant, one fall or failure does not a fucked-up year make. Now, if I scarf up a chunk of chocolate it doesn’t ruin my day. I just move more.
What’s a BHAG you can set and get to work on? How can you and I use the fruits of what has already transpired this year to make the last of the year even better? How can you build on what you learned?
What will put the bird in your chest as the Northern Hemisphere begins at last to cool down, ready for beds of leaves and blankets of snow, and the sweet soft sleep of the end of the year?
Where does the bird sing inside you? How can you give yourself that voice?
There’s still time. What will you do with yours?