What Has Time Forgotten?

Time capsule: where did you think you would be?

Time capsule: where did you think you would be?

Miles run Sunday: 5 (excellent!)

Miles run Monday: 3 (horrible!)

Miles run today: 0

When I was in elementary school, a few of my friends and I had an extra class that we got to take once a week.

I remember sitting out in a trailer (they now call them “cottages” to make them sound more upscale) near the PE classes, enjoying the sunshine and the respite from dreaded math and my teacher who used words like, “flustrated.”

Not a word.

Out in our trailer, we did fun things like create island nations and corresponding governments and argue about which resources were more necessary. Today, there’s a board game like that called “Settlers of Catan.”

We were the kind of trailblazers who made our own Catan… er, Rainbow Island.

The teacher was a bit of a wild card. We made fun of her, but secretly, we all liked her and her wacky, way-far-out-of-the-box skill set. During all hours of the school day, she held one of those tall, plastic cafeteria cups full of ice  and frequently crunched it with zeal while teaching. I hope her teeth survived to old age.

She had large, fuzzy hair the color of rust sprayed to her level of perfection, and the tips of her fingers would hover over it from time to time to check that its perfection was still intact.

Sometimes, she read us five-minute mysteries that we had to solve on the spot (I never did). They involved details like “larynx” and “late-model sedan” that remained foreign to me until I was at least 25.

One time, she brought in one of our classmates who later went on to be salutatorian in high school who tried to explain binary code to us (again, foreign, and dare I say it? Pointless.).

But one of my favorite activities was the time capsule. Various teachers through the years gave us time capsule busywork, but with this teacher, I had the strong belief that she would perhaps keep the information safe and present us with it on the day of our college graduation or wedding or even on the morning that we were launched into space.

So I laid out my information with great seriousness, thinking ahead to the time 15 years in the future, when I would be 25, and the time in the very distant future when I would be (gasp and gulp!) 35. Unthinkable.

But think I did.

My main exposure to future-think was my mom’s favorite TV show, Star Trek. I was dearly hoping I would not have to wear a unitard for my future on the space station.

The goal of the time capsule was to think ahead to what we would be doing, not the people we would become.

That’s why the concept of the book I just read, What Alice Forgot, was so intriguing to me. Almost-40-year-old Alice falls off of a stationary bike at the gym, bashes her head pretty hard, and forgets the last 10 years of her life. The last she knew, she was still in love with her husband, pregnant with her first child and prone to sleeping long hours on the weekends.

What a difference 10 years makes.

The author, Liane Moriarty, does a fine job of illustrating the small changes that lead to big changes… not only in what Alice is doing in her life, but in the kind of woman, wife and mother she has become.

I do set goals for myself for the next five and 10 years; things I want to experience, things I want to accomplish.

But do we do enough thinking about the person we are becoming as life has its way with us?

What are some ways you stay in tune with not only your outward goals but your very being?

What would your 10-year-old self be happy about your life today? How would he or she be disappointed?

Advertisements

Forever-Ever?

Captured on film for Eternity.

Words written in my novel so far: 24,111

Miles run yesterday: 4.5

Days until my 40th birthday: 38

A couple of nights ago, I had a dream that all of my hair went gray overnight. And I’ve been chased a lot in my dreams lately.

I have had more dreams than I can mention where I am running a race, and the course isn’t marked well. In one, runners were expected to crawl through a hole the size of which only my nine-year-old daughter could fit through.

I didn’t fit.

Is it my 40th birthday looming? Other stressors? I don’t know.

Like I’ve discussed with friends: aging isn’t so bad if you’ve checked off all of the things you’d hoped to accomplish.

If not? Well, welcome to some funky dreams, my friend.

Back in college, my cute Psychology professor dude talked to us about Eternity Projects… what you hope to leave behind when you’re gone. Perhaps it’s that you birth an amazing kid who goes on to save the world by finding a cure for cancer. Or you create a modern-day equivalent of The Statue of Liberty.

This may come as a shock to some readers, but I was not totally concerned about my Eternity Project at age 20. The end of my life seemed comfortably far in the future.

At age almost-40? Not so much.

And in the immortal words of Prince, or the Artist Formerly Known as Prince, or [Place Symbol Here] or Prince (again): Forever is a mighty long time.

I suppose I have to come out of the closet at this point and say that as I consider my life and my future, I am almost completely an Intuitive sort of person.

You may now play new age music, burn incense and chant with me.

Kidding.

But much has been written on fellow writers’ blogs lately about choices and self-doubt. I posit that this is simply the human condition.

But amid all the weirdo dreams and daily white noise, we all need to get in touch with that incense-burning, whole foods-eating, chemical-free part of ourselves and follow the signs.

I had a cool affirmation this morning! After waking up slightly off-kilter, definitely questioning if I should change the setting of one part of my novel, I started researching more and found a “thumbs-up” kind of sign for my original setting. It was just the sign I needed to move forward and stop worrying about crawling through holes that weren’t my size.

Do you have times when you question your choices? How have you resolved those issues? How much do you trust your intuition over research?

And lastly, a plea for research help: does anyone know a person who a.) lives in Santa Barbara, California or b.) has lived in Santa Barbara at any time over the past 20 years? I’d love to speak with him or her!

Never Say Never

This photo (from Boone, NC) has absolutely nothing to do with this post.

How old you have to be to finally learn life lessons: older than I am, clearly

Age my son was when he said he would never buy a Mac: 7 (I asked him to sign and date this proclamation, like any good parent would.)

Age my son was when he changed his mind and said he wanted an iAnything: 9

I am almost 40. You young people out there might think I am aged and now know everything. I might even think that myself sometimes. But it is (mostly) untrue.

One thing I do know: never say never. It’s kind of like a reverse of that drinking game from college, “I Never.” Except that it’s about “I Will Never…” Yeah. Both of these things will lead you down a bad road.

1. Jeans wearing. I think I was about 14 when my friend told me that her mom said bell-bottoms were going to come back into style. I laughed. I said, “Never, ever will I wear jeans that flare out at the bottom. Seriously? Jeans makers would never be that stupid,” as I peg-legged my jeans. (Note: for the uninitiated, peg-legging was absolutely essential to looking cool circa the mid-1980s… it involved folding over the bottom hem of one’s jeans and making it as tight as one possibly could, then rolling those jeans very, very tightly up one’s leg.)

Jeans didn’t start flaring out for several years after that, especially in the non-fashion-forward places I chose to live. But it happened. And yes, I bought some jeans that weren’t tight at the bottoms. And life was good.

Until I said, “I will never again wear unflatteringly tight jeans that come in at the bottoms.”

Yeah, that happened, too.

Then I started wearing a lot of dresses.

2. Aging. Just so you know, aging happens to other people.

Until it happens to you.

This is unfortunate. When I was dewy-young, unblemished and unwrinkled back in The Day, when my 30s were a far-off, imaginary thing, I used to laugh at dry-eye commercials. That pretty actress from Northern Exposure who said she couldn’t produce tears? I laughed at her.

Note: I do not recommend this behavior.

I think I may have said something like, “That will never happen to me.”

Then my 30s came, and I was a washed-up, aging, wrinkled, sun-overexposed, dry-eyed person.

I would cry about it, but I don’t have any tears.

3. Running for more than 3 miles. I distinctly remember calling my mother on the day my sister ran her first half-marathon and saying, “Who in the world would choose to run for two hours? Two hours?”

If you’re getting the gist of my post, then yes, that was later to be me. Almost five hours? Yeah, that was me, too. And, as one of my favorite bloggers pointed out, I paid money for the pleasure.

4. Writing about my life for people to read. My sister got worried about this one when I started writing fiction. “So, uh, are you going to, uh, write about your life?” Which I kind of wondered at the time if it meant, “Are you going to write anything really embarrassing about me?” And I thought and thought and thought about it and couldn’t think of anything embarrassing enough to write about her. So then I said, “No, never. I’m not that interesting.”

But then I discovered blogging, and I’ve gotten to mention her a lot. And I still can’t think of anything embarrassing to write about her. Dangit!

5. Changing technology. On a near-daily basis, I hear other people saying things like, “Oh, they’ll never stop making hard copies of books.” I shudder and make a secret sign of warding off evil when people make loud declarations like this.

When I was in fourth grade, they showed us a (VHS) video of technological advances scientists were working on for the future. I was already pretty jaded, since re-runs of The Jetsons had made me think we were supposed to be a lot closer to living on space stations, having robot maids and driving in flying cars. So when they showed footage of people in some city in Japan testing out automatic cars with maps that guided them to their destinations, I think I muttered something cynical like, “Well, that’ll never happen.”

And now, although current GPS routes take friends and loved ones on a roundabout course through various apartment complexes instead of on normal streets to get to our house, I guess we made it. Technology has arrived.

So, Life Lesson #243, which I may never learn, is to avoid the use of “never” in any and all verbal discourse. That counts 20 times over when you write it down or make a video. When you catch yourself using this verboten word (examples: “I will never…” “They will never…” “It will never happen…”), take a drink. Maybe that way, you and the people you know may never remember what you’ve promised never to do.