EDITING NOTE: I posted this to my Facebook in July of 2013. Crossposting it to my blog to save, and also updating with pictures.
Many years ago, I was flying in a Naval helicopter from Northern Iraq into Southern Turkey, and that helicopter crashed into PKK territory along the border. But that’s not really the story I’m telling today. The part from that story I want to share is that as the helicopter was going down, one of the thoughts that went through my mind when I thought I was going to die was, “Damn. I never got to have long hair.”
The helicopter auto-rotated to the ground and we just sort of bounced heavily, the powers that be sent out Turkish Special Forces to protect us overnight, and we were rescued the next day. As I was flying back to safety and remembered some of the things I was thinking right before we hit the ground I had to laugh at myself a little bit. Long hair? What a stupid thing to be regretting when you think you’re going to die.
After that mission was over and I deployed back to the United States I went to my hairdresser and told her I wanted to grow my hair out long. It took a couple of years to get all the layers out, but by the time I retired my hair was all one length and to my waist. At that point, I felt like I had done what I dreamed about, and it was time to let it go and go back to shorter hair. So I did.
So many things in life are like that. “I wish I had.” “I wish I could.” No one can change the past, but the present and the future are, at least to a certain extent, within your control. Some of my favorite quotes come from a book I read back in High School by Viktor Frankl (“Man’s Search for Meaning”). One of those quotes is, “When we can no longer change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Change is a scary thing. It requires you to do the work, to refocus your thinking patterns, to be ACTIVE instead of PASSIVE, and to do all of that in what are hopefully positive ways. It requires acceptance of what IS, because that is the foundation from which one must work to build what will be.
I find myself right now at a very interesting place in my life. I’ll be 48 this December and I can feel the approach of 50 on the wind. Fifty. That seems like a huge milestone to me. Who do I want to be when I’m 50? How do I want to be living my life? I have some ideas, probably too many to articulate in this space, but I want to share just a bit of them.
I want to truly KNOW myself. You’d think that at 47 years old I would, but no. There are things that ARE that I have not been willing to acknowledge and accept. So self discovery is a goal. I want to be physically healthy. That requires my active participation in what I know to be healthy behavior: eating correctly, exercise and activity, not drinking too much. I want to interact with the world in an artistic way, to create and to share beauty with others. I want to be able to help others with their personal growth work and emotional healing and for me to be able to do that in a healthy way I must first do my own work and my own healing.
Heh. I make lofty goals for myself sometimes. As always, my army-trained-hippie brain kicks in and starts to make a plan. One step at a time. Little goals that lead to the accomplishment of the larger things. Personal accountability.
Here’s what I’m starting with:
Physical health: Cleaning my diet back up, setting myself a personal limit on alcohol consumption, starting a daily heavier workout routine.
Self Discovery: Active private journaling, look for interactive growth workshops/opportunities
Artistic growth: Continuing to push myself with each art project I work on. How can I make it better, bigger, push my artistic limits?
And for now? I think that’s enough. One step at a time.
EDITORS NOTE: And now I’m 50. Still doing the work, still setting goals, still trying to push myself a little more each day, still working to live up to the standards I set for myself. Growing a little more, one day at a time.