This past weekend I got away for an overnight with "the girls".
It's not always easy to list the benefits of getting older, but one of them is undeniably the existence of old friends. The group I was away with included my sister, my aunt, my best friend since childhood, and two college pals. This means that collectively I have known these ladies for something like 150 years. (Side note: did I mention I'm old?)
We spent the weekend at a spa, and in between hot tub soakings, massage receivings, and cocktail downings we engaged in the most important part of girls weekend: We talked. And talked. And talked some more.
For the past twenty years I've talked to these same women about almost everything. I've talked to them about where my life was going. I've discussed with each my dreams and ambitions. I've regaled them with the drama of my dating life and I've gotten their feedback on the choices I was making.
But I realized this weekend that suddenly I was talking less about where I'm going and more about where I have arrived.
At forty-one, my life has fewer moving pieces. I am, for lack of a better term, "settled down" into the life I spent the last twenty years building. So many of the journeys that these friends and family have helped me navigate are largely over as I find myself with a home, a husband, three small kids, and a career.
But what's interesting is that the fundamental question that I'm asking about my life hasn't changed all that much.
As we looked back and reminisced on our trip, I found the regrets I discussed most were over parts of my life I felt I'd neglected. I wondered aloud if I should have settled down into a career sooner, if I might have gotten out of relationships faster once I realized they weren't working.
And as I imagine looking back at my life another twenty years from now, I know the central question is going to be the same:
DID I PUT MY ENERGY IN THE RIGHT PLACES?
I have a couple of areas of my life that could easily demand my full attention. I have a husband. I have three small children. I have a career. I have a desire to be fit and to take care of myself physically. Putting all my energies into any one of these realms is not possible, and so I spend a lot of my time trying to figure out some way to balance each of them against one another.
I'm sure as I look back from sixty I'll have made some of the same mistakes that I did from twenty to forty. I'll have focused too heavily on areas of my life that seemed crucial at the time only to realize in hindsight that I had neglected other things that were actually more important.
BUT WHAT WILL THOSE THINGS BE???
I gotta say I have no idea.
Should I concentrate on building my career even if it means letting more things slide at home? I know the anxiety I have about my kids is fairly useless, but can I let it go and just enjoy the time that I have with them? (Because as every human who has ever had a child likes to remind you -- it is FLEETING FLEETING FLEETING!!!) Should I take more time away with my husband even if that means less time together as a family??
I truly don't know the answer.
But it gives me some comfort to feel like I'm at least asking the right question.