I think one of the most amazing things about life, is that you always get second, third, fourth and more chances to do things differently, and even better. The only time that is not true, is if a person decides to take his/her own life, then there is no other chance– in this life anyway– and I think that is very sad, but who am I to judge another’s path?
For me, I appreciate the “second chance” in many aspects of my life. I appreciate the chance to be a better dog owner, to be a better friend, lover and partner, to be a better mom and daughter. I am glad for the opportunity to learn how to knit and sew more proficiently, to try different kinds of music with my group, to read books that absolutely blow me away because they are so good and I never want to finish them, to live in a place that is my soul’s delight every minute of the day, to have and accomplish dreams that I never would have imagined, such as having a house devoted to being a studio, and having alpacas.
I appreciate the second chance to find parts of myself that may have hinted they were there during my first 60 years, but are allowed to fully blossom because I can explore them with ease and time now that I am not working. It is shocking to look back and realize how much energy I had to put into daily life and work, even work that I loved, so that there was very little leftover to enjoy stillness, my own projects, and giving back to my community. I never expected to have the chance to be retired at this age, but life (and cancer) gave it to me. Tom Brokaw says that he had a lucky life that was interrupted by cancer. For me, I had a life with ups and downs where I was often depressed or unhappy, that took a turn with cancer. Yes, in a way it was interrupted, causing me to have to quit work, quit some of the physical activity I had done, put things on hold while I went through treatment, but it became part of the flow of my life, not just a singular interruption. My life has changed, my priorities, my relationships, my activities, and that is all part of my path. I accept cancer as one of the ups and downs I’ve always had. And the happiness that resulted from being with Sarita, and the deepening of our relationship due to cancer, is also in that flow.
I’ve had some rough experiences lately, that have reminded me of other ones earlier in my life. In those days, they were devastating in their effects, yet the latest ones, which do come with some grieving, do not devastate me. For example, we played music recently for a cafe, and for the friends who owned it. It was basically for free, for the love of the music and the friends, and we practiced and practiced to be able to do our best for them. Well, through some misunderstandings, and unclear communications, the friend/owner got quite mad at us for playing too loud and keeping people from sitting at a nearby table, and after berating us, had us move to a nearby room to play the rest of our set. Moving to the room was okay, but her way of communicating that to us, was not. We have since made the decision not to go there anymore. It is somewhat sad, but we realized that probably we weren’t as good “friends” as we thought we were, and that neither of us would miss each other. Time is too short to be around people that are not kind, and since it doesn’t look as though she will be apologizing, we will turn another direction for our future. That’s okay, it’s like that in life, constantly making decisions about where to spend time and energy, turning in one direction or another. We will not be putting this place or person down to others, but she will go on her path, and ours will probably not cross it. Second chances mean that we can constantly choose where we go, and with whom we spend time, without it becoming a catastrophe.
Another thing that can change with second chances, is our perceptions. Sarita and I have been recently talking about that mysterious “veil” between this world and the next. I went to the Orkney Islands and studied death and that veil with a spiritual group several years ago, and I do believe there are places where the veil is thin enough to allow something, maybe communication, maybe spirits passing back and forth. The stonehenge- type places and the cairns, they are definitely filled with power. But is it a physical thing, or is it because of the perceptions of the people that live there? Or is it physical because of the perceptions? In our wonderings of these things, we are deciding that we would love to have our little compound here, be one of those places, if possible. We are thinking about death in a practical way, and we would like to feel as if we could talk to each other, see signs of each other, communicate in some way, after one of us dies. If we do rituals on solstices or whenever is important both astronomically to the earth and to us in particular, if we meditate regularly together, if we believe that we were called to this magical place, if we create a peaceful and calm and loving environment through our way of living, our love of the land and animals, our actions toward others, and our celebrations, then can we have our place right here where the veil is thin and we can really be with each other both in this life and when one of us is gone? Well, we are going to try. I love that I have a chance to think about this with my partner, to develop our spirituality together, to revise and edit and grow into our beliefs.
I guess the best thing about second chances, is that nothing is stagnant. Life is always changing and moving. Sometimes, I admit, that has been really hard to deal with. Just when I think everything is going well, my friend moves away, or takes a different job. Or a friend gets sick and dies. Or something happens with my money. But whether the change is something that anyone can touch and see, or whether it is just my perception, whether I am moving in a different direction because of a painful learning experience, or because of the joy of anticipating something new, I know that I can always make new decisions and that things can always get better. I can truly forgive myself for all of my past decisions that weren’t so well thought out, or that didn’t work out to what seemed like an advantage for me or my loved ones. I can feel as though I’m always trying my best to be kind and honest and loving and generous. That’s how I’d like to be remembered, and if I fail today, I will try again tomorrow.