We all spend a lot of time thinking about choosing a path through life.
My grandmother did not have this luxury. She was sent, by her mother, to work in a factory when she was about 7 years old. So my first step today is acknowledge my grandmother and her life, and understand what she did that makes my life today possible.
The genesis for these thoughts is a quote I stumbled across. I really don't like it:
By the time a person has achieved years adequate for choosing a direction, the die is cast and the moment has long since passed which determined the future.―Zelda Fitzgerald
I don't like it because it is fatalist. It doesn't specify age, but it suggests whenever one does find a direction, no matter what age, it is too late. I reject this now, and I rejected it when I was 30 and feeling time's winged feet even more strongly than I do now.
This quote does, however reflect one underlying truth, the sense of wasting time, of regret for things not done, the anxiety of passing time that plagues people of every age. What I felt at 20 and 30 far more than I feel now, at 60. And, yes, it is true that in many ways paths narrow through life. At 60 one does not have the time stretching in front of them off to a little unseen pinpoint in the future that one does at 20.
It is very tempting to me to fall into the trap of that quote. To think "I'm old and there's not a lot of choices left to me". And more poignantly to think "there's not enough time left to do something new with me and my life". To which my inner self replies with one of my favorite Dalai Lama quotes (from when I heard him in my youth):
Live life without regrets
It works on multiple levels: live right now so that you will not regret anything in the future, but once you have lived life, do not waste energy regretting what you have already done. If I had done otherwise with my life I might not realize the things I am tempted to regret now.
So I come to another Dalai Lama quote:
Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend – or a meaningful day.