I was standing in my friend’s kitchen, in August, in New Jersey, with no air conditioning. I don’t remember why there was no air conditioning, but I remember the heat. The heavy, oppressive New Jersey heat.
Good conversation, cheap wine, and bumpy trips down memory lane filled the evening, so the heat was pretty tolerable.
The reason I am telling you about this seemingly common evening is because my friend’s mother was joining us in the kitchen that night. I hadn’t seen Lilian in a couple of years. Lilian is one of those very classy older women always dressed beautifully with an air of refinement you don’t really see anymore. Kind of like the ladies in the old black and white movies.
We toasted to Lilian’s 75th birthday which had been a week before and although she joined in our wine glass clinking she looked sad. I assumed she was feeling her age, and perhaps she was, but I soon learned why she looked so sad when I asked her what was wrong.
I am 75 years old I didn’t do anything. she said.
I thought I would have done something.
I felt like I was a young mother just yesterday and there was so much I wanted to do in my life. Yes, I had a wonderful marriage, 3 great children, a home, a job and I loved all of that but, I really wanted to do something special.
I didn’t produce anything or accomplish anything and I always thought I would, when the time was right.
I took care of my family. Sometimes I worked, sometimes I didn’t but the time never seemed right to do anything big, anything really important and now I am 75 years old and I thought there would be more time.
All that waiting…waiting for the right time, for the courage, the permission…all that time waiting to start.
I know now that I was waiting for something that would never come.
It was all in my mind. I created all the roadblocks because I was afraid. Afraid of the pushback, afraid of being selfish and failing, afraid of being embarrassed, afraid of so many things.
I am sad for that young woman who thought she would do so much. She believed it would eventually be her turn, that there would be time for her.
She could have done so much, I could have done so much more.
What about you, are you happy enough to die tomorrow? What about next week? There is no waiting, whatever is preventing you from starting today will be replaced by something new tomorrow and the next day, and the next decade.
Don’t think about what if you die tomorrow because you probably won’t. But what if you die when you are 75 and you didn’t do anything because you were still waiting to start.