There was a time in my life when I thought nothing new was ever going to happen to me. Nothing major, anyway. I think it occurred to me right after I moved to my mom’s. You know, you reach some settled point in your life when you think – okay, this is it. I live where I’m going to live, who I’m going to live with. There are no other big changes left to occur or choices left to make. No more new boyfriends, no more excitement or wild times, no more once in a lifetime trips.
I think this is part of growing older. When you’re young, the possibilities seem endless. Where you’re going to go, what you’re going to do, who you’re going to end up with. Life, at first, is like eating at Denny’s and choosing from page after pretty page of pictured options. Then, before you know it, you’re at some fancy restaurant eating multiple courses of food you don’t recognize, can’t pronounce, and didn’t even pick. Being handicapped only exacerbates these feelings. The choices become even fewer and farther between.
Well, I’ve decided it doesn’t have to be that way. Life is as exciting as we make it. Of course, things slow down as we age and most choices are behind us, but not all of them. We can always choose to shake things up a bit. For example, my writing coach recently resolved to experience one new thing every month. She picks one thing she’s never done before, and just does it. Brilliant. Last month, it was a Turkish Bath House in Atlanta. Surrounded by women of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities, she jumped from heated to frigid pool and let a very strong woman scrub her for hours with giant salt rocks. Talk about keeping it interesting!
Thus inspired, I decided to dip my toe into waters (a bit wilder) myself. Driving home from St. Augustine on A1A last week, two girlfriends of mine decided they wanted to go skinny dipping at sunset. Now, this is an example of an activity, like dancing or playing softball, that I would normally exclude myself from as being too much trouble or downright impossible. After all, my wheelchair can’t negotiate the soft sand, it takes forever to undress and I can’t swim! Luckily, these are good friends. Fueled, in part from the wine at dinner and in part from some deep seated fear I might miss out on something, I did something I almost never do. Instead of trying not to be much bother, I demanded they take me with them. In fact, I proceeded to dare and taunt them when they almost talked themselves out of it. My mind made up, I was determined to make it happen.
I’ll skip a lot of the gory details, but fast forward and imagine the sight, if you will, of a middle-aged naked woman, half-scooting, half-crawling across the sand toward the surf. I really never left the water’s edge, but still, I’m lucky I didn’t drown. I haven’t done something like that since my twenties, but certainly if you’d asked me last week, I’d have assured you that my skinny dipping days were over. I guess you never know.
So, try something new! Or do something you used to do, that the current version of yourself would never dream of doing. I’m going to steal the idea and try out a different experience every couple of months. And oh, by the way, one of those things has already been decided. I’m going to Mexico. For a month. But I’ll save that for another post. The point is, I’ve never been. New things happen when you make them happen. And there’s still plenty left on the menu.