My Next Thirty Years

MescaleroOctober 13, 2014
Mescalero, New Mexico

My Next Thirty Years

One of my favorite quotes states, “We are all teachers and we best teach what we most need to learn.” I find it ironic that I am reading comments on my book which allude to the adventure and the freedom which my life was, and always has been, based on, and in the process being reminded of the importance of that. It isn’t that I have forgotten those lessons for they are the foundation of my existence but rather that I have become so distanced from them that I have instead begun to yearn for their return.

During the adventure I embarked on which became the body of the book, and the months after the journey ended when I wrote the final pages, I lived on shoestrings. I paid my bills but added debt also, consciously balancing the pleasure and the risk while honoring the opportunity to live my life as I wished rather than as I felt I had to. I knew I would repay the debt and the rewards were worth the commitment. When I finished the book I went back to work to meet that final goal and to pay off my debts, an effort I am still pursuing with good results. That was over three years ago.

My friend Karl and I took a Sunday drive yesterday, wandering the two track trails across the Mescalero Apache Reservation, up where the elevations foster the towering fir trees and the quaky aspens, the later whose upper leaves are already golden from the first frost. If I had been alone I would have drove in silence but he likes the radio and Sunday here in the mountains is pure country, literally and figuratively. I focused on the brilliance of the sky and the plethora of nature; he was looking for juniper trees, which, as we learned, only flourish at the lower elevations. The song, ‘My Next Thirty Years,’ jogged me back to reality and I couldn’t help but reflect on my own measure of years, so starkly speaking to my current circumstance. I have been happier in years past and even if I can recapture that happiness in my ventures to the hills I still must return to work on Monday mornings, less than willing to do so.

Thirty years will take me to my eighty-sixth birthday. Even if my youth is spinning away behind me so I am still young. In thirty years I will not be by any measure except, hopefully, in spirit, as that does not seem to dwindle in the ways my youth has. I still have the levity and the desire to live my life as fully as possible and the thought of the same reminded me that I have been less than mindful of that promise. The words of the song jogged my awareness as did the praise I so recently received for having lived my life far from the constraints of convention and instead making my own path through the wilderness. I have wandered far from that path of late and only now have realized I must turn back and realign myself with the same; there is nothing more important than that. I will honor my debts but my first commitment is to myself and I must fulfill that, everything else will follow.

This then, is the turning point. I should have another thirty years to look forward to, maybe more, maybe less. I promised myself as a youth that I would live my life in a manner which would leave no regrets and so I have. I also recognized there is a broad variety of hardships we must face in this life and the struggle for survival has always been preferable over the one for success, at least in the material sense. The irony of my most recent challenge is that the goal I am most set on at the moment, to publish my book and pursue the fulfillment of my literary and creative goals could potentially meet both definitions of success. If I don’t focus my efforts on that I will never know the answer, or the outcome. When I sat down to write my book it was with the awareness that I would never fulfill that dream unless I simply applied myself to the task and I succeeded in doing so. I am now faced with the same challenge and if it takes me another thirty years to fulfill it I will have met all of my own expectations. This is a lesson I have always taught and one I apparently still need to learn!

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