You have no idea the treasures you find when you are clearing out stuff – hidden high up on a shelf, stuffed in the back of the closet or crumpled in the bottom of a drawer. Things long forgotten, once held so dear. Since we’ve been clearing out quite a bit at our house these days, I’ve had more than a few surprise finds and lovely moments spent reliving old memories. There is nothing like a walk down memory lane to help steer you into the future. So, last week I’m sorting and tossing when I came across a faded Travel Section from the Los Angeles Times dated October 12, 1986. That was the year my sister moved to Hawaii and I was getting itchy feet to try something different myself. Not an easy decision for a single mom with two kids. I was (sort of like now) deeply immersed in the “what if” and “how the heck” of searching for the next chapter in my life. While reading through the LA Times, I opened the travel section to a beautiful full page photo of an ocean sunset in Bali entitled “a letter to Nancy”. I am not kidding! It gave me goose bumps. Yes, that letter spoke directly to my 38 year old self and just touched my wanderlust-full 63 year old soul all over again. I hadn’t seen it in years, but there it was ~ right when I needed to read it. The whole story was over a page long, but I’d like to share the “sweet spot” with you.
“You are right, Nancy, there are no safe roads, no guarantees. Only the joy of discovering the unknown. Each day is a new adventure, a new experience, so there are no promises. It comes to all of us that life itself is a risk.
Each moment begins as a mystery with joys hopes and fears in a pattern that changes constantly. Otherwise there would be no peaks, no valleys. Only boredom.
The second hand sweeps ahead while calendar pages fall like the leaves of an autumn afternoon. Impatiently, life goes on and the tragedy of this adventure is failing to live each precious moment to its fullest. To do otherwise is merely to exist. You’d be surprised how swiftly youth is lost on advancing years, so spend those moments wisely, Nancy, without unnecessary fear. This isn’t to say that one should be foolhardy; rather it means there is no road that guarantees a safe arrival. Life offers no guarantees — only the joy of discovering the unknown. So spend your precious moments wisely, Nancy.”
And so, 26 years later, I think I’m finally “getting” the message as we set off on this new journey. That paper is back resting on the shelf. Lesson learned and re-learned. With any luck, 20 odd years from now, those same words will be encouraging me to live to the fullest whatever that might mean to my 80-something self. Maybe I’ll be reading it on the beach at sunset in Bali. That would really bring it full circle.