Sometimes we yearn for it like Sam Cooke crooned in the 60s. Other times we sneer at it for the differences it manifests in people.
Hate it or love it, change happens.
Rediscovering the list of things I want to do in my lifetime inspired me to examine how much I’ve changed since the summer of 2003.
The inherent ingredients are still there: I still enjoy a good time, yet find pleasure in solitude; I still love the Lord; I’m still open-minded and like to read and write and eat, drink, and be merry; I’m still friendly and a tad flirtatious; I still procrastinate, all of the above. Yet, these inherent elements have refined. Four and a half years may not represent a vast amount of time in a long life, but these years are significant, particularly in the early 20s when self-awareness and character are shaped by the experiences of young adulthood.
I was 21 then, and so much seemed out of my reach, out of my league. Like “trying real sushi.” I still can’t believe that made the list of things I wanted to do in my lifetime, as if eating authentic sushi is exclusive or elite. The thing is, it wasn’t a part of my experience growing up in a middle-class family in Delray Beach, Florida. The only people I heard talking about sushi lived a different life and didn’t look like me, giving the dish a false aura of affluence. Nowadays, I’m eating sushi regularly on my lunch break. And it’s not like I’m ballin’, it isn’t even expensive.
In the past few years, I’ve developed a mindset of entitlement that is almost hedonistic. I took enough trips to realize that buying a plane ticket and staying in a nice hotel for a couple days will not land you in the poor house. I’ve eaten in restaurants that I learned about from magazines that don’t cater to my demographic and discovered I didn’t have to be dressed up, rich, or white to be there. (There’s other places to eat besides Red Lobster, y’all!)
Overall, I’ve learned that most of the stuff we position in a misty far-off dream can happen today. I also realize that the people who drive the nice cars, have the big houses and plenty money are not an elite species of beings. They have no more brain capacity or capability than I do. They weren’t born with a birthright to the good life. The only barrier between me, them, and what I want to do, is me.
Everything is attainable. Even goals like playing the piano and speaking Spanish don’t feel all that difficult to do anymore. Now that I recognize that it’s not that serious, it’s not that serious.
Besides being all militant about getting mine, other aspects of my being have become more refined. I still love the Lord, but my faith has been tested and is stronger. I still enjoy a good time, but my definition of a good time has changed; I used to be thrilled by the thickest party with the loudest music and the highest degree of sweating. Now I’d rather kick it in a venue where I can choose to sit down and carry on a conversation.
When it comes to the opposite sex, hell, I’ve got a lot to learn. I might have picked up one or two nuggets of knowledge along the way, but men never cease to make me go “hmmm…” One thing’s for sure, I spent entirely too much time interested in various men for extended amounts of time, and it didn’t amount to anything. I was scared to mention the R-word because I didn’t want to run a brother off. But I found out the hard way that people will be with whomever they want to be with, simple and plain. So as opposed to wasting my time, at some point, the R-word has to be mentioned. And if that’s all it takes to run a man off, then he can hit the tracks. And don’t come back for no benefits.
French author Anatole France said, “All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” There is a bit of sadness to changing, to leaving some of the items on that list behind. Some of them I will never do and I won’t care. There lies the beauty of change.
I’m encouraged by the changes in my life. I’m ecstatic about being the best me. And who knows, a few years from now I’ll look back on this column and say, “What in the world was I thinking?”