Death, the real pushing-up-daisies kind, also signifies transition for those of us left standing.
My 30th year began with the death of my childhood dog, which was, I must say, traumatic. Then last week, the uncle married to one of my favorite aunts unexpectedly passed away. The day after, we received news that my 99 year-old grandfather was going into hospice. He passed on Tuesday the 28th, and his funeral is next Thursday (and, in a cruel ironic twist, his funeral is on the birthday of the aunt who just lost her husband - that poor woman is getting pounded).
In the midst of all this was the wedding of one of my oldest and dearest friends who finally married the girl of my dreams (and presumably his too). She is everything I always hoped he'd find, and then some. So, for one day, I got to set aside my grief and celebrate the start of something truly splendid and wonderful with friends I've known for nearly twenty years. I'd wanted to write them a card, something that would impart wisdom and best wishes and somehow magically bless their union with the written word. But I couldn't find the words. Something about how, even though so many things change over the years including ourselves, the parts of ourselves that never change are what we love most. Something like that.
So. Death. And change.
I've taken a week off of work to wrap my head around all of this, which is the very best thing you can do. And yesterday, while on a morning hike, the parts of my life that I don't like crystallized. I haven't been living up to my own expectations. I haven't been fulfilling my Life Goal (which I came up with when I was 11, don't judge): To be an interesting person.
Here's the interesting thing about this goal. Interestingness is not only purely subjective, it's dependent on other people finding me interesting. I'm living my life on a stage of public opinion. This does not bother me. None of us live in a vacuum, no man is an island, and I like getting nods of approval from perfect strangers.
But somewhere between my last crazy trip to parts unusual and now, I've become boring (at least to myself). I don't get a kick out of telling people what I do for a living anymore. I've gotten fat. Yes, fat. Don't argue with me. My life has been wrapped around my husband, my house, and lately my new rescue dog Greta (Greta Garbo, because she is THAT glamorous), which are all things I love, but aren't objectively fascinating. So last week, after I heard the news about my uncle, I sat down to write my requirements for being an interesting person. This is purely my own opinion, but that's the one that counts.
1. Be fit enough to do awesome things.
Fix: Get fit by doing awesome things, including hiking, archery, dancing, and yoga.
2. Finish goals I've started.
Fix: Sort out the back yard vegetable and herb gardens, succeed at composting, finally learn to use my damn camera.
3. Do awesome things.
Fix: Travel more, visit friends, plan a roadtrip, play with exotic animals, learn a new dance style. Do things that are completely unexpected.
4. Travel to unusual places.
Fix: We're planning a trip in a year to go to China, Hong Kong and Tokyo. And I'm thinking of Africa, or Vietnam/Cambodia...when I can afford it again. Houses are expensive.
5. Explore different painting styles.
Fix: Van Gogh is on my list, as are midcentury modern styles.
6. Get work/life balance together so I have time to DO interesting things.
Fix: Limiting my work hours to 4 hours a day.
7. Change jobs.
Fix: This is a hard one. Marketing is not what I want to do with my life. I don't like selling things and I don't like being sold to, so I'll be looking at other ways to use my talents and experience this year. I want to have the kind of job that makes jaws drop at cocktail parties.
I guess what I'm doing is using death as a springboard for making changes I've needed to make for a while now. Death is transition, even when it's literal.
Sadly, the one thing I cannot do, which I would find very interesting indeed, is to attend that wedding in England. I'm really bummed about missing it, but now that I've figured out the root cause of all that angst I was feeling, I'm doing okay. I should have realized that my reaction to that wedding was more about me not living up to my life goal - and that is something I have the ability to change.