What would you do if you found out that you had only two months left to live? That’s the question a dear family friend is struggling to answer this morning. He went to the doctor a few weeks ago for pain and today he’s reeling with from the worst news of his life: cancer. They gave him 2 months to 2 years to live. I’m still a bit in shock.
Just as my mom was sharing this tragic news with me about one of our family’s oldest friends, I was reading this post over at Memorable Moments on “11 Things to Achieve before 11.11.11.” My first thought was what would you want to achieve if you had even less time than that. I really can’t imagine being given a life ultimatum as dire as two months. Would you fight the cancer? Or would you throw all of your time and effort into having the best two months you could ever imagine?
In the end, I guess it comes down to hindsight, right? If it turned out that you beat the cancer and lived for another ten years, fighting it would have been the right thing to do. If, on the other hand, you spent two months fighting and died in three, perhaps it wasn’t the best idea. The problem is that we don’t have the benefit of hindsight when we’re forced to make those excruciating life decisions. Faith and personality would end up being the determining factors, I think. I think my faith and my personality wouldn’t let me give up. Then again, who knows what I might think in that particular moment.
Thankfully, I’m blessed to stand at a far different moment right now, which leads me to my second thought upon reading the “11 Things t Achieve Before 11.11.11” post. By 11.11.11, I’ll be 30 years old. I’ve feared turning 30 for the last nine years. To me, 30 always represented a mid-life checkpoint moment….have I achieved the things I intended to achieve by the time I got here? Up until this year, many of those things were left unfulfilled. I think that’s why 30 has always been such a sore spot for me.
As I move closer to the 30th year of my life, I fear it less and less. My younger self had two distinct criteria (and many more nebulous ones) for success by age 30.
1. Two kids, and family building completed, by the age of 30.
2. Successful career, preferably having received the coveted “manager” title.
Now those requirements look kind of silly…a benefit of hindsight, of course. No, we won’t have our two kids by the time I turn 30, and now I know that there may not even be two kids in our future at all. But, I have my one perfect baby boy and if he’s the one child God planned for our family to have then so be it! A year ago, when were up to our necks in infertility testing and it all felt so insurmountable, I felt so much pressure about having at least one child by 30. LMH is such a gift that I feel beyond blessed to have had one child by 30, let alone worrying about not having had two!
As for that second requirement, I’m not sure I’ll have it fulfilled by 30 either. But, I’m more and more okay with that. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m striving towards a better work-life balance now that LMH is here. Perhaps it’s the fact that I love my job as is, and I know it’s moving in that direction just not necessarily on my timeline. Perhaps it’s the fact that I feel confident that the company I work for is the perfect place for me, if I choose to stay in Corporate America. Or perhaps it’s that I’m actively seeking new outlets that could lead me in an entirely unexpected direction (like my soon to be announced new blog project). Whatever the reason, I’m okay with not being a manager by June of next year. In fact, I might be okay with not being a manager at all….a younger me shudders at the thought!
So, as I read Sonal’s post, I realized that I don’t know what I want to achieve before 11.11.11. I need new goals, because my old ones seem so shortsighted. I want to be a better me…a me who’s at peace with where and who I am. I want to take a more active stance in our community, reach out to new people, make lasting friends in our hometown. I want to define the direction that I will take for the next decade of my life. It’s interesting that when I started my 20s I wanted to be doing exactly what I am now, working at a successful airline (so I can check off that goal). But, as I begin my 30s, I’m not sure that I want the same things.
It’s time to do some soul searching. What might I accomplish in twelve months if I tackled it with the gusto of someone who’s just been given two months to live? While I’m struggling to answer that question, I pose it to you, as well….