I remember the countdown in school to summer breaks. Most of the teachers were always really cool the week before, letting us ride out our enthusiasm and if you’re one of THOSE teachers that don’t, you should be ashamed of yourself 🙂 But I just remember the sense of freedom that always seemed to burst from inside everyone’s chest at not having to get up so early or getting to have those long lazy days by the water. For me it was building forts with my friends, riding bikes, going swimming or going camping in the backyard. Later, it meant going to work and earning extra money so you could plan out your new school clothes or go to the store whenever you wanted, to buy anything you wanted.
Graduation happened over two weeks ago, the rest of the kids got out over a week ago and you can see that same energy light up all their faces. The idea that freedom is out there and they can do whatever they want.
Yesterday I went to a retirement party for my sister-in-law’s mom, Pat. She just retired from nursing after 43 years! She worked in the Critical Care Unit (CCU) of various hospitals for 40 of them. I have a small understanding of what a nurse goes through on a daily basis, when I studied to be one. Clinical’s or working in the field, was always my favorite part and I was good at it. When I no longer could do it, it broke my heart. You could tell in talking with Pat that she was phenomenal at what she did. CCU nurses deal with literal life and death everyday. When I asked her what she was looking forward to in her retirement she said, “Not having to get up at 4:30 am anymore.” It wasn’t not dealing with patients or the work it took to take care of them. It was being able to get up every morning and do what she wants to do. She said pretty much the same thing I and my fellow empty nesters are saying, which is now we need to plan some new things to do. The whole world just opened up.
My grandfather will turn 98 next month. He has always, ALWAYS been a happy, fun-loving man, whom people naturally gravitate towards because he’s so positive and radiant. When my grandmother died a few years ago, it was the first time I ever saw him lost but he’s also a man that lives with intention. He tripped and hurt himself to the point where doctors said he’d probably not walk again, where upon he said, no I’m walking out of here and after a little while he did. When it came time for him to go to a place where he could have a little more help and care, at first he was scared of the idea and then he made it his place. No, literally he runs everything now and helps people who are nervous or scared about coming there, to relax and feel welcome. He’s a total rock star and he’s 98 years-old!
It’s interesting to me how we all evolve. That there are these stepping stones where what’s important changes and you figure out what you want then you go again until the next stepping stone or moment in time when you’re dreams surpass your skepticism or feelings of failure. The other thing I’ve really come to understand is it’s also never too late to do what you want, start over or trying something different with no shame, just new interest. Most of the people I know now, would never go back to being twenty or even in some cases, thirty because the experience they have now, can’t be taught. You have to earn it. Okay, most would probably like to have the rubberband, pain-free body but I digress. You’ve got an ex-President jumping out of airplanes at 90, you’ve got kids graduating high school and college jumping in with both feet. You’ve got men and women spreading their wings for the first time in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. You got baby boomers retiring (and they’ve never lacked imagination), going on to work harder than before they “retired.” You have men and women of all ages, joining the military during war time, because they believe in their ability to serve and protect us!
So, summertime reminds me of freedom, a moment in time when it feels that you’ll be successful at anything. There was a video circulating on Facebook, about Jim Carrey giving a commencement speech at a college I had never heard of. At first he did Jim Carrey as only Jim Carrey could do, and then he became this deep, insightful, glorious man that was so incredibly inspiring, that I challenge you to watch it and not come away wanting to do better, just for yourself because you deserve it. He said two things that I really, really loved, well more but this really stood out for me. The first was he was telling a story about his father and the job he worked at. He said his dad hated it every day and that he didn’t make much money at it. Jim said every day he could see his father feel as though he failed and it taught him the greatest lesson he could’ve learned, “You can fail at what you don’t want, so you may as well take a chance at doing what you love.” The other thing he said was to have faith, not hope because, “Hope walks through the fire and faith leaps over it.”
So, I hope today you can do something that you want to do, even if it makes absolutely no sense to anyone else but just because it makes you feel happy and free…