I should know the drill by now. After all, I’m two months to the day away from my Big-7-0 birthday. I should know the road is long, winding, bumpy, steep (and so on, and so on) because I’ve been hiking it for so long. Nevertheless, I was hoping, around the time of New Year resolution-writing this year, that the road ahead would be clearer. My hopes seemed so simple and straightforward: Retire to Mexico. Live happily-ever-after.
Well, reality has struck, as it will. The road ahead is socked in with fog, I see, and it’s keeping me awake at night. I lie awake in the dark and try desperately to make out some images: Is that a fork in the road? Is that a bridge on the sunnier side? Oh, it’s a toll bridge! But I don’t have enough money in my purse to pay the toll! What to do?
One sleepless night recently, feeling all alone, overwhelmed and at a loss, I actually wished I had a big, strong, smart, decisive, loving, and supportive husband in bed beside me who would wrap me in his big arms and soothe me with sweet words, like: “There, there, my Love; it’ll be all right. I’ll take care of everything. I’ll always take care of you.”
And then I came to my senses. This fantasy is so far removed from my reality (and always has been) that it’s almost laughable. I should be used to my solo journey by now too. Silly me.
Then I came up with what I believe is an ingenious game. My game (yes, it’s mine; I didn’t read about it anywhere) does two things at once as you’re lying in bed in the middle of the night, wide awake and worrying too much: It forces you to do relaxing deep-breathing exercises AND it takes your mind off your worries. The game goes like this:
Lying on your back, place your hands flat against your abdomen. Then, think of words that begin with the letters “in-.” Allow these words to pop into your head willy-nilly. As you think of each one, breathe IN on the “in-“ syllable, then breathe OUT on the remainder of the word. For example: “In-[inhale]credible[exhale]…In-[inhale] appropriate[exhale]…In-[inhale]spire[exhale]…In-[inhale]vest[exhale]…In-[inhale]struct[exhale]… And so on. With every deep inhale, you should feel your hands rise; with each exhale, they lower. By the time you’ve thought of about a dozen “in-” words and taken as many deep breaths, you’ll be sound asleep!
Well, most of the time. There have been a couple of times lately when my mind wasn’t in the mood for games. Instead, I found myself praying for a telegram from God. Nothing elaborate, just a short note telling me what to do and which way to turn. Is that asking too much from the Great Creator? In the middle of a sleepless night anything seems possible.
During one such dark night, at about 3 am, I felt led to turn on the light, turn on my computer, and turn to Facebook (for companionship? for guidance? for diversion?). Lo and behold, as I scrolled through the disparate posts, I came across what I read as the telegram I was hoping for. It was a quote from Gabriel Garcia Marquez:
“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old; they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.”
Why, yes, I thought! Crossing that toll bridge to the sunnier (happily-ever-after-south-of-the-border) side certainly is a dream. But if it’s meant to be, I’ll find a way. Somehow I’ll scrape up enough to pay the toll.
My God – who is NOT, by the way, a big-old-white-guy-in-the-sky – came through for me. My God also has a sense of humor and (who would have guessed?) resorts to Facebook as well. I went back to bed and slept soundly.