This is my birthday week, and, as usual, birthdays prompt reflection … although it’s not a milestone birthday, and I don’t need a date on the calendar for such contemplation anyway. But this …
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This is my birthday week, and, as usual, birthdays prompt reflection … although it’s not a milestone birthday, and I don’t need a date on the calendar for such contemplation anyway. But this year, I’m a bit unwilling to entertain what’s going on in my head – a coming-to-terms moment with what I’ll delicately call my “limitations.”
What’s uncomfortably rolling around in my brain is a dawning realization that many dreams, adventures or accomplishments I have hoped to achieve – or relive – could now be slip-slidin’ away (as Paul Simon would say).
For example, I’m pretty darn sure that I will never mountain bike Horsethief Bench again … eight sweltering miles of grueling single track, with its micro-thin overhangs, boulder-strewn ups and downs, and slippery slabs high above the Colorado River near Fruita on the Western Slope. Now, maybe it’s a loop around Cherry Creek State Park, or, if I’m feeling really bold, Matthews Winters out by Red Rocks.
Along with mountain biking as a favorite sport is rock climbing … those multi-pitch challenges where my job was to “clean” our protection. As the second climber, I removed the hardware the lead climber had jammed into the rock to keep both of us on the rope and off the ground. Post-Covid, I plan to be back at the climbing gym, but I won’t ever learn to set the protection myself or – and how much I want to do this! – bivouac overnight on the face of a rock.
And, of course, this is not just about the physical limitations many of us will face. For example, it positively wilts me to even consider that I truly, actually will never be fluent in French or Italian or conversational Spanish, even though I have a gift for languages and an ear for pronunciation. I have unopened Rosetta Stone, Pimler and In Flight language programs sitting on my shelf, and this one hurts.
Plus, like most of us, I play the “what if” game. What if I had attempted a law degree – which I might have loved – instead of English, which I do love. What if I had found a way to explore and live and work in Europe during my 20s … and learned French, Italian and Spanish along the way.
What if I had become a foreign news correspondent (think Richard Engle). Or a sports analyst (at which I’m really good … ask anyone). Or an astronaut … except that women weren’t welcome at the Air Force Academy when it was my turn to try.
And, despite my overwhelming desire, it has become distressingly clear that I’ll never have the financial means to leave my job to help refugees on the border, to build houses after a hurricane, to bring clean water to villages or provide relief to the oppressed … although I do hold these thoughts for when I am able to retire.
I am beginning to comprehend that, yes, I am who I am, and I am where I am, right now. That’s why I’m taking time to reflect this week … to appreciate what I already do well, to inspire myself to keep trying (not Horsethief Bench, but maybe the new Palisade Plunge?), as well as to facilitate finding fulfillment in the present.
Now, that’s something to contemplate.
Andrea Doray is a writer who, even as a civilian, sincerely wants to go to Mars. Seriously … ask anyone. Or contact Andrea at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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