As a child, you dream about meeting Mister (or Miss) Right, buying a charming bungalow with a white picket fence in the suburbs, begetting precisely two and one-thirds children, and raising a stinky-but-lovable golden retriever named Max.
So you plot and plan and ride the tides, marching ahead, falling behind, through the winding roads of life, in pursuit of your ideal. You get an education, you date, you cry, you learn, you grow, and as you do, years inevitably and quickly pass...
And one day, something happens, something no one quite ever expects: you end up having all the things you dreamed about, all the things you wished for. You unearth the holy grail of Americana - your house, your kids, your dog (or cats, if you're not into housebreaking), and your suburban square of earth. You're practically a Norman Rockwell painting.
You've got thirty-plus years left ahead of you, you surmise. Your worldly expectations have been met, have they not? Of course, you've got diapers and bills and Max's joint issues, ailing relatives, ants in the summer, and a To-Do list that, I can assure you, will never end. And choices upon choices about everything from laundry detergent to weed control must be made with each passing moment. And you teach your kids to sit up straight, and say please and thank you, go to Zumba, drink cheap wine, run to the market three times a week, and otherwise spin in your wheel. Always spinning in your wheel.
So, is that it? Are you finished? Is that your life? Is that what life itself is meant to be? Will you collect Precious Moments figurines until you run out of places to put them? Will you tinker in your garage or garden? Who are you? Who will you be? And how will you become fulfilled? Will your life end in a blink or over several painful years? Does it matter?
Could you be one of those people reaching for enlightenment, ever turning towards the sun to collect spiritual lessons? Or are you one of those perpetually dissatisfied with the status quo, consistently embarking on a new adventure?
I've reached a point in my life where I can appreciate many of the struggles through which I've come. I am grateful each day for everything I have, and I don't want to lose it. But I am also not finished. There's always something to be done. Even my plans have plans.
Am I merely keeping myself busy? What will happen when the projects run out?
These are questions to which I do not want answers. But I have come to one conclusion thus far: I don't want to waste my life.
I've generally poked fun at the 'Bucket List' phenomenon, but from my vantage point, I see no other logical next step.
With the universe asking, "Now what?" I am obliged to answer.
God willing, I have a good thirty able-bodied years ahead of me. And though I delight in tinkering and toiling and whipping myself into a meringue, I recognize that, yes, Kid Rock, there may just be more to life than this.
There are sunsets to be seen, flowers to smell, and exotic fruits to be eaten. There are words to be read (and written), fires to be stoked, and clay to be molded. There is art upon which my eyes must gaze. There's a world out there beyond the walls behind which I've found myself trapped. And I want to experience it.
I've decided there will be time for karate class, and matching the curtain,s and wiping the counters, and finishing the basement, and planning the kids' party, but there also must be time for me to step outside that role to solidify who I am and where I belong in this universe.
And I need to learn everything I can, so I can know, so I can see, so I can feel. So I can finally be still.
I need to be who God made me to be now.
More from parenting