Expiration Dates

There’s this thing that tends to happen once you hit a certain age whether you’re having fun or not.  Time flies. 

I spent a significant portion of my child bearing years wandering around the desert, searching for the meaning of life instead of bearing children – or arms, for that matter.  At that time I felt as if I were living in a perpetual pause waiting for my real life to begin once I figured out the right combination of person, place, and thing that would deliver me to the Promised Land.

Now, it appears, I have arrived.  I must admit, I’m a bit surprised that the Promised Land is in Maquoketa, Iowa.  That’s the tricky thing about Promised Lands.  They seldom look like I imagine.  Even family and friends seem a bit curious about how I landed near water after decades in the desert.

Simple explanation:  dehydration.  Eloquent explanation: unquenchable thirst.  Either explanation leads me to my home by the river where I am gifted with a constant reminder to let go and let flow.

This new world order means there are certain ideas, dreams, clothes, canned goods and commitments that must go.  Instead of serving the greater good, they serve as a reminder that the time for that particular good has come and gone.  Consequently, a conscious and continuous clearing out of clutter is in order. 

Often times it takes a move, a loss, a change of status, or the beginning or ending of a relationship for us to look at our life and our accumulated possessions in a new light.  Most of us are not so motivated to don a new perspective when things are going smoothly.  Usually we need to hit what life coach Martha Beck calls a “rumble strip” or series of unfortunate events before we are forced to wake up, assess our situation, and act or react accordingly.

I’ve recently resurrected my limited food preparation skills as I’ve started hosting spontaneous Friday night parties at my home.  In my efforts to throw a few things together on the fly, I’ve encountered a disturbing trend.  Things in my pantry are older than they appear. 

The great thing about canned goods is they have an expiration date listed right on the label.  Clothes and hair styles have their tells as well.  There is no denying when they need to go. 

The paperwork and projects littering my home office, on the other hand, have no such signs.  Pulling the plug on timeless ideas that are brilliant in theory but difficult to deliver is much harder than pitching the pizza mix from 2010.  But as these projects continue to take up more space, I concede it might be time to let them finally rest in peace, freeing up the considerable psychic energy attached to them.

Inherent in the death of anything is the seed of rebirth.  The thing that I’ve been acutely aware of in the past 6 months is that the phoenix does rise from the ashes.  But often the bird that emerges is one of an entirely different feather. 

Reinvention, while exhilarating, is often uncomfortable and leaves one feeling alternately invincible and vulnerable, unquestionably alive and, in my case, extremely thirsty.

Which leads me to my home by the river.  I’m guessing we all have an alternative version of reality where we are living large in a land of luxury with plenty of umbrella drinks or green smoothies and private chefs and our favorite form of entertainment available 24/7. 

But growing up requires waking up.  Some of us may be living the life we imagined for ourselves at this age.  Others may be completely confounded as to how we got here. 

As I continue to let go of what has expired, I’m committed to breathing life into what shows up and finding ways to be utterly delighted by this second, third, or fifty-fourth wind.

What about you?  I invite you to sit down and tell me about it.  I’ll even offer you a snack.  Just let me check the expiration date on it  first, okay?

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