Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Same old, same old....

I catch myself saying it all the time. When someone asks me how life is going, my inevitable reply is almost always, "Oh, you know, same old, same old." I think by the time we become parents we resign ourselves to the fact that we won't be experiencing new things and, for some of us, enjoying life to the fullest.

I caught myself doing that just this weekend. My family lives in one of the regions that got hit with copious amounts of snow. I woke up on Saturday morning irritated. The snow had ruined my plans for the weekend, it was cold outside, and I was going to have to scoop the sidewalks. (Or I would fiddle around with a shovel while my husband did the real work. Don't tell him...) My kids were, of course, excited to go play in the snow. It wasn't until Charlotte, the youngest, looked at the wonderland of snow with the amazement that we seem to only feel in childhood that I really looked at my surroundings.

There was a silence to the world. Cars were not rushing down the streets, as most people opted to stay inside their warm homes. The trees looked like they had been frosted with royal icing and sparkled in the sunlight. The yard was covered in the pristine white of newly fallen snow. When I stopped to look and enjoy, I realized that I had been given a truly beautiful gift. I built a snowman for the first time in years, had a snowball fight with my kids, made a snow angel, and I even helped scoop the sidewalks. (Though I do wish we had a snowblower.) I wouldn't have had that day if I had let the negativism of adulthood win.

Adults are negative. That is really all there is to it. We get beaten down by responsibility and duty. We experience most of the exciting things in life by the time we are in our late twenties. We have our first kiss, drive our first car, make love for the first time, get married, have kids, etc. Once we have kids, we step to the side and let them experience their exciting firsts. We let ourselves fade into the background, and we wonder why we are exhausted and life seems so dull.

Our lives are dull because we let them get that way. Before this last weekend, I couldn't remember the last time I tried something new. It might not seem to be anything exciting, really, and some may criticize me for it. My brother let me shoot his Russian rifle from World War II. I have shot a gun before. (Only once. It was a handgun, and I was too nervous to appreciate the experience. Older and wiser now....okay, older anyway.) We hiked out behind my parents' house to a safe place. Andrew showed me how to hold it properly and made sure that I felt comfortable. I never would have thought that shooting a firearm would have been so exhilarating, but it was. I don't know how good of a shot I was, but I really did enjoy the experience. Andrew only made fun of me a little bit for the weird stutter steps I took after each round.

I am not going to go out and buy a rifle. You probably won't see me strapping on extra clips and fighting crime. (Although...)  In those seconds that I was trying something new, I felt really alive. I've resolved to let myself become more open to life and its interesting turns and curves. I can look at something and appreciate it for more than I would have before. I have promised myself that I will try something new much more often than I have in the past, even if it is just a new food. Not every new experience is going to be enjoyable, but I can say, "I've done that." Some day (Hopefully a lot of years down the road...) someone at my funeral will say, "She really lived. Did you know she went deep sea fishing (or some other exciting life experience)?" Because what else are we supposed to do with our lives besides LIVE them.

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