Dearest Rachel –
I was just hearing at lunch from what I assumed to be a family at the next table over about their plans for the afternoon, such as they were. The wife of the younger couple was talking about how she had been so careful about the amount of time she had been spending in the sun thus far; she understandably didn’t want to be walking around Oranjestad or Willemstad in a state of pain from sunburn. However, now that sunburn wasn’t an issue, she saw no reason to limit herself to a short, set amount of time for sunbathing, especially since there wasn’t so much to do on these last couple of days as the ship was returning to Port Everglades.
A lot of life is like that; we hold back for so long, thinking that cutting completely loose would be bad for us (and we’re not entirely wrong, I want to make that clear), but when we get closer to the end of it, we come to the realization that we haven’t done nearly all the things we had originally intended to, because we thought at the time that they might be dangerous, or they might damage our social standing, or what have you. At that point, you have one of two options; either give up on your dreams of doing those dangerous things, or give up your inhibitions that tell you that those things are dangerous, and do them.
It may be why there’s such a trope as the rude senior citizen (although nowhere near all of them are like that – I’d certainly never accuse my parents of being that, for ins); why hold back your opinions if you have them? There’s a certain point at which you’ve only got so much time to express them, after all. And what do you care about what other people think of you at that point? You don’t have that much time to have to deal with their opinions anymore, anyway. So cut loose, why don’t you?
You certainly never held back, nor did you wait until it was too late to indulge yourself in whatever you wanted to do. Occasionally, you might tell yourself that there were other, more important things to be focusing on, but by and large, you tried to live without placing too many restraints upon yourself, and you did what you wanted to do when you wanted to do it.
And isn’t that what so many of us strive for in the first place? I remember seeing a sign that read, ‘IF you do what you have to do when you have to do it, THEN someday, you can do what you want to do when you want to do it.’ You’d reached that level a lot sooner than most of us ever do, and while in the process, you may have dispensed with a few things you might otherwise have had to do, I think you considered ignoring those things an acceptable concession. Given how much you enjoyed life, I’d say that, for the most part, you made the right decision. It wouldn’t necessarily have been my decision, but for the sake of peace and harmony – plus, to see you at your happiest – I’d go along with it.
And that’s where I differed from you, and probably from the gal I was overhearing at lunch (although, to be fair, the fact that I was even at lunch today suggested I was doing much the same as she was, only I had a different set of priorities – I could care less about the level of tan that I get, but I am starting to concern myself with whether I’m eating too much, and have tried to stick to two meals a day, even out here on this cruise. It’s probably too late for me, though, at this point – I’m stuck with this dad bod for life). For my part, I think I may fall into that first group. Some dreams of mine are going to have to go by the wayside, for one reason or another, and I have to resign myself to that. I’m too used to playing it safe to stick my neck out and run the risk of getting hurt or embarrassed; I have to convince myself that I’m not missing out on that much. Whether it’s the FlowRider, the SkyPad, or my search for ‘Megumi,’ deep down inside me, I can’t seem to convince myself that my odds are better than even. I’m more comfortable inside, anyway.
And yet, and yet. There is this little piece of me that still insists that I need to get out there. It’s the reason I’m even here, you know. But whether that’s as far as it has the power to bring me, well, that remains to be seen.
At the same time, I think I still should try and limit myself at the dinner table, in an hour and a half, wouldn’t you agree?
I’ll talk to you later, honey. Until then, wish me luck… I still need it.