You have probably heard of this thing where people list 30 things they want to do before they turn 30. I am behind a little. I only have 81 days to do whatever crazy things I want to do. Typically this type of thing would be right up my alley. But I have subconsciously been avoiding it for two reasons I just realized. First, even though it sounds cliche, I am joining the club of people who are in denial about their age. I am still coming to terms with the fact that “thirty-year-olds” are not people who hang out with my parents, or those dragging their kids to little league games, or people who tell cheesy jokes and drink adult drinks. No, “thirty-year-olds” are MY FRIENDS, and I am one of them. Sigh. My mom says when you are a kid life goes so slow and then somewhere around adulthood it starts rolling like a snowball until about 50 it is racing so fast you have no idea what’s happening. Guess I better hold on.
Anyway, I think the second reason I haven’t done the 30 before 30 is that to be honest, making a list like that just wouldn’t be that big of a deal, for me or anyone else who knows me. I live and breathe lists. Grocery list, wish lists, meal lists, goal lists, packing lists, project lists. I’m one of those people who adds something to the list just to cross it off. (You know who you are.) I make so many lists that last year I decided that a master notebook (think Trapper Keeper, thirty-somethings) to hold all of my books of lists would be a good investment. It held my notebook for grocery lists, my notebook of project lists, and my notebook of – wait for it – miscellaneous lists. (this is not a joke.) When describing my trapper keeper to my husband, this was the point at which he burst out laughing.
No, for me the challenge has never been lining the lists and getting the goals. My 30-before-30 list would just be one more feather in my cap for self-accomplishments and petty victories. If I really think about, for me a REAL success would be to STOP doing, stop planning, stop analyzing, stop achieving, stop predicting and charting and mandating and controlling and thinking and… DO NOTHING.
In other words, to stop worrying.
Hmmm. The first time this insane idea crossed my mind I literally laughed. What a ridiculous, impossible thing. To make a goal to stop worrying! Makes for a good chicken-soup-for-the-soul story but how in the world. How would I even find the resources to totally, totally let go and with all my strength and heart and mind work on being positive? Too crazy.
And then I was dared to. I was talking to my mom; I can’t remember if it was the time I thought Ty had whooping cough or I was having another kid or I couldn’t ever have another kid or Sam was too energetic or too lethargic or what. But anyway, I was bemoaning the state of me, the inflicted worrier, when she slapped me with this: You know, you don’t really know if you can stop worrying, because the truth is, you’ve never really tried. Being the goal-oriented person I am, I was more invigorated than offended. Puh! Never tried it!! Is that a challenge? I’ll take it!
Of course, it would be goal-making heresy to vaguely pledge to forsake worrying with no defined end. So 1-before-30 it is. Until October 26, 2011, I will do no worrying. (Don’t ask me what happens the 27. Worry party?? Anyone in?)
Anyway, upon further deliberation I realized I may need to redefine things, because, come to think of it, telling someone to not worry is about like telling someone not to think about oranges. (What are you thinking about??) And also like, if you forgive my presumption in Bible interpretation, the story Jesus tells about the empty house and the demons coming and filling it. No worry, and you just have an empty space for more destructive thoughts.
So perhaps a better goal is this. For the next 81 days, I will be a positive thinker. I like the sound of that. Truth be told, I am a little, um, worried, about it though. What if I fail? Of course now I’ll have to tell all of you, but it’s really not little old blog followers that terrify me. As any perfectionist understands, it’s me. What if I set a goal, make a list, and FAIL? I would be so depressed. Honestly, though, I don’t think it’s failure that terrifies me most.
It’s success. What if I try to become a different person – and it works?? Then what?? Secretly, I like me. Flaws and all. And goodness knows we don’t need two Todds around here. Who would rush the kids to the doctor? Who would warn everyone of tornados (okay, tornado warnings. same thing.) I am at core terrified that if I stop worrying the next 81 days will be full of undetected ear infections, uninspected lumps, untreated diseases ravenging through bodies, unaddressed child-rearing issues and basically, calamity after calamity slapping us, out of the blue, in the obliviously cheerful face.
So it is with great trust, both in God, who I do admit is REALLY in charge (there, I said it), and also trust in those of you who see me daily, that you will alert me if I am exhibiting pre-diabetic symptoms or my child does indeed break out in rashes at the sight of ragweed or whatever alarming things I might miss.
I choose to sit in the passenger seat.
And I am going to dare to enjoy the view. At the impending notion that something terrifying could be coming, I am going to – gasp – choose another, more happy ending. I am going to give life the benefit of the doubt. I am going to assume the best, or does it count if it is at least a medium option. I am going to speak hope, and good, and life and health and beauty, and not tiredness and hints of a runny nose and why-could-he-be-late and I can’t-make-it-through-todays.
To be honest, I’m not exactly sure WHAT I will do because this optimism thing is foreign language. So I think I will ask for help. In fact, I think I will interview a few optimists and maybe post it here. Stay tuned. And in the meantime, give me an early 30th birthday present and pray with me. That I can let go. And that if I do, I won’t fall (apart). I’ll keep you posted on my exciting adventure. Here’s to 81 days of optimism. Kind of has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?