The greatest illusion in life might be that there is more time. Time to get things right.
As Americans we obsess over checklists and preparations for life events; we want to make sure things are right before we do things. I have friends that wanted to make a certain salary before proposing, or wanted to achieve a certain work milestone before getting their passport, or wanted to consistently place in the top three before investing in their dream destination event.
There’s always a reason to wait. But as the New Year approaches, and you are filled with a thousand more reasons to wait (lose weight before buying that pair of jeans! Learn a language before traveling! Win three shows before trying the AECs!), I just want to say that it’s right, now, to do all the things you want in this life.
Maybe it’s not ideal, but it’s now, so it’s the only time you’ve got.
I am writing this blog from a porch in Ella, Sri Lanka, overlooking one of the most beautiful valleys I have ever seen. Right now.
And I don’t have as much in the bank as I wanted before going to Asia, and I am 10 pounds heavier than I wanted to be in all my pictures in a swimsuit on the beach in Thailand, and I left my company in total mayhem with new client intakes during the crush of midterms, and my husband and I worked 16-hour days leading up to departure, but I can honestly say that this is right, now.
Because being ready for things is an illusion, it’s sand through the fingers and a finish tape that flutters away. You can always be more prepared, have more money, and have less responsibility at work. Your horse can always be more consistent, and his training less interrupted by weather issues or flat tires. And even if you do hit this magic illusion of “I’m ready,” look at all the riders and teams that were expected to dominate that went out and had bad days. Years of preparation ending in a mouth full of dirt and a deployed air vest.
Time is the most valuable commodity in life, and we account for it by what we did and who we were with. Don’t let your totals be dominated by cubicles and bosses.
I realize that it takes a lot of responsibility to navigate through life and raise a family. I have spent the last week driving through extreme poverty, the kind that does not exist in America. But I also drove through smiles, and laughter, and people proud to show me the tea they picked and solemnly recount how they survived the tsunami of 2004 (it took 35,000 lives in Sri Lanka).
One of my jungle guides was on the beach when the water receded and he ran over two miles in the jungle to get up a cliff high enough to survive the 35-foot wave. He was lucky, but from that vantage point he watched as people who did not know the signs wandered out into the now enormous beach and laughed, drawing in the sand. I have thought a lot about what they drew, names most likely with hearts around them, before they looked up and it was too late.
I lived through hurricane Katrina, and worked the days following the hurricane in the LSU basketball stadium that had been converted to an ICU/receiving center, and helped wrap up burn victims arriving via helicopter after days without food or water.
I fully understand that there are reasons for caution in life, and that we can create a thousand scenarios for which if people had only done certain things then they might still be alive. But no one gets out alive. No one.
It’s right, now, to do the things you want to do in this life.
In 2016, I just want to quit living under the illusion that I have more time. I want to stop waiting for everything to be right before I execute a dream. It’s right, now.
And some of your decisions won’t be perfect. But if I have to suffer from my mistakes, I want to suffer in the best moments, on a beach writing my name in the sand, and not when my heart flutters in a cubicle I never escaped.
So as the articles and the lists fill your news feed in the New Year, just look the other way. You are right, now. In the end the few extra pounds, the smaller 401k, the less impressive job title won’t haunt you. What haunts are the places you didn’t see, the people you didn’t call, the self you didn’t love. If you are reading this, you have time, now, to do those things. It’s right, now.
Take 2016 to do the things you have wanted to do but sat waiting for more approval, mainly from yourself. Visit the college friend that lives on the other coast. Go to Devon or the AECs just to go to Devon or the AECs. Some of my favorite weekends were my worst on the scoreboard, but I was there with friends and we were all doing what we loved, and that made it right indeed.
Go for a ride in the rain, book a lesson with the trainer you’ve always admired, volunteer to tag along to a show last minute as groom for your friend, buy the horse. Visit the city that you’ve always wanted to see, have friends over for game nights instead of chatting online, have dessert. Write your name in the sand of life.
I hope 2016 bursts with memories, that it fills with smiles over ribbons and tears over pulled shoes. I hope you gallop around the stadium at the show you’ve always dreamed of, even if it’s in the lowest division. Cut yourself a break, laugh over the mishaps, try again tomorrow. It’s right, now.
Let 2016 be the year that you love your self and your life simply because you have one to love. Don’t wait for the false ceilings of expectation we create before heading into the unknown. Because it isn’t entirely unknown. If you go for the things you want, right now, you cannot go wrong. What other choice do we have?
One of the Chronicle’s bloggers, Kristin Carpenter juggles the management of her own company, Linder Educational Coaching, organizing the Area II Young Rider Advancement Program out of Morningside Training Farm in The Plains, Va., and eventing at the FEI levels. She grew up in Louisiana and bought “Trance,” a green off-the-track Thoroughbred, as a teenager. Together, they ended up competing at the North American Young Riders Championships and the Bromont CCI**. She’s now bringing another OTTB, Lizzie, up through the ranks.