In 5 short years, we will be 50. FIVE-OH!
Some days I can grasp that concept a little easier than others.
For the past few weeks and months, after returning to Texas, and now leaving it again, seeing and reconnecting with friends of many years both in Houston and Arlington/Dallas areas, spending time with family, having experienced a painful and debilitating illness and injury earlier this year in Thailand, having returned to Burma all three of us along with my parents, having both of my parents with us in Chiang Mai, losing a close friend at such a young age unexpectedly and other reminders of how fragile life truly is — all these months of experiences and memories combined - have had me constantly re-evaluating my life in one fashion or another.
What I know for certain is that I will not be holding on to any one material thing or item on my death-bed. What I know for sure is that I want to have few regrets and what-if’s on my death-bed. The fewer the better!
This had me thinking again about what I want to do with the rest of my life. It’s been sort of a theme lately.
Living in and splitting our time between Burma and Taiwan is the next big thing for us as we move into our next phase of our lives in Asia. The first time I went back to Burma with J was the first time I had hopes of going back to Burma and make a life there. That was in 1999. Thirteen years later and twelve years into our marriage, after living in Thailand for 2 years, we are now strongly pulled to family responsibilities we wish to meet because, well, it is the right thing to do. I admit though that it is scary to think these responsibilities might take us away completely from the next big things we really want as part of our lives and experiences. With all phases in life, we must have faith that life will work out the way it is supposed to.
Our daughter is 9 now approaching the double digits. That’s exciting and a bit scary at the same time. And yes, it’s true, time has flown by so fast for us as well. I have wondered though whether I’ve been a decent Mum to M. I know it’s a common concern of most Mums and it is mine. I often wondered what legacy will I leave for my daughter when I’m gone (I don’t know, say 30 years from now)? Does she understand why we decided to live in Thailand? Does she know why I insist on assisting the various organizations in Chiang Mai, and the Burmese migrants I meet through them? I think she knows what I’ve been doing with my time in Thailand and why we moved.
At that age of 9 when we ask *M* “what do you want more of from your parents?” her answer has always been “PLAY with me more!” She’s certainly not telling me to “work more Mommy!”
And the idea of homeschooling M so that we can live in certain countries without having to worry about her education in a physical institution has been a lot on our minds. We did it briefly during summer 2010. Still, I’m scared that I’m going to get it really wrong! Oh but what the heck, I won’t get it unless I do it.
As we contemplate on our next move in life, I want to pay attention to having few regrets in life.
In the article, the one I mentioned earlier, the nurse mentioned the following five as the top regrets.
First — “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
“To believe in something, and not live it, is dishonest!” ~ Gandhi
I’ve tried my best to live a life true to me. Now we’re in another transition in our lives again. I recently had a profound thought that in life, doing the right thing, the moral thing is not always automatically and/or necessarily the easiest thing. As we get older, we have bigger challenges we’ve not faced before. And that can be scary. But my hope is that all three of us have the courage to support each other through the good times and the bad times, allow each other to live a life that is true to each of us, together.
Second – “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard”
With us, we actually do want to work more since we’ve had a “semi-retired” life in Thailand for the past two years. However, we realize that we need a balance. Our daughter at 9 is still asking us to “play with her, more!” I want to work hard at doing my best in homeschooling M when the time comes.
Third – “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings”
Writing helps because I have to and I get to pick out my words carefully! Otherwise, sometimes it’s better left unsaid and make peace with it, whatever it is!
Fourth – “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends”
Both J and I try to do our best in this arena. Last year was probably one of the tougher years on that front. We disconnected to reconnect recognizing our usage of social media and being online too much since moving to Thailand. Though we don’t regret the decision and doing what was right for our family, we learned a lot from the aftermath. This summer after returning to Texas we especially appreciate our friends who remained our friends with or without the online connections. They are still around after another year of us being gone, ready to reconnect with us and even help us. I have learned to treasure this more than words could ever express. I want to work harder to stay connected with these friends for many more years.
Fifth – “I wish I had let myself be happier”
I’m not so sure how to write or express this one and perhaps that’s an indication that I’m not already letting myself? I know not for certain.
I do know for certain that I do not need material things in life to make me happy. I prefer to find meaning beyond the peripheral and the material stuff.
Brene Brown said it best that “We live in a world of scarcity. Which means we feel like we never have enough.”
I have enough when I have my family, friends. experiences and memories made with the people I care and love. In my life I need to serve. I need to forgive. I need to let go. I need to meditate. I need spirituality. And perhaps it is a balance amongst all these: maintaining rich and profound experiences with family and friends, serving those in need who can never repay us, practicing forgiveness, meditating and continuing to live a life filled with spirituality that brings me to a place somewhere along the continuum of life that reveals more of how to let myself be happier?
For what it is worth, I revert to this video below as an inspiration because it keeps me in the moment and for today, I’m thankful for having this computer and to be able to type these words to share my thoughts.
Gratefulness for we had six weeks of quality time with supportive family and friends in Texas, for we are home safely in Chiang Mai, for we have the means to hop between the continents, for our health and each other and for the opportunity to serve the marginalized, the disadvantaged.
Message to M: “In life, doing the right thing, the moral thing is not always automatically and/or necessarily the easiest thing. Do the right thing anyway” ~ Mommy
I’m not even sure if this post makes any sense to readers, after re-reading it again for the Nth time. I wrote it in early July and went on doing other things. Truth is, I feel good about writing it and getting it off my chest, my head, in hopes that some day, M will discover it. It made sense to me. And for anyone else who can relate, thanks for being here and reading.
We Say NO to Status Quo.
Live Green. Live Small. Give Large.
Take Little. Take Notice. Take Action.