When You’re Caught Off Guard

Which words on this shelf are more powerful?

Sometimes I just don’t pay attention because I don’t want to be bothered. It happens with the dust gathering in the corners of the floor of my house or on my bookshelves, the stack of things I set aside to get to one day and eventually moved to a drawer or “holding place” that is out of my daily vision, the bathroom scales, or even my bank account. I don’t want to deal with that work, those decisions, that number, those responsibilities.

When I ignore them too long, though, they have a tendency to jump up and bite me. You’d think that after so many years of living I would know this, and in the deepest part of me, I do. Yet I persist in my bubble, believing somehow that if I ignore them long enough, they will right themselves or go away.

That happened to me yesterday, and today I’m struggling with how to fix it quickly – even though I know there is no quick fix. Once again I hear a voice from my youth saying, “You got yourself into this mess, now you get yourself out.” I think that’s my mother, but it could be a teacher, my grandmother. (Those lecturing voices get fuzzy since I clearly ignored their warnings!) Yet, here I am. Figuring out how to “get myself out” of the current mess. Realizing if I had only paid attention along and along I wouldn’t be in this mess. Kicking myself for yet again ignoring something until it bit me. Frustrated that the “fix” will require the sacrifice of something I didn’t really want to give up.

When did THAT happen?
When did THAT happen?

Making it to the prime of life (and by “prime” I mean 60+) does not mean you get all of the answers. Sometimes it means you just kick yourself harder when you make the same mistakes. “You KNOW better! You KNOW how to avoid this!” And the voice lecturing in my head is not my mother’s or my grandmother’s. It is my own. The one I used to teach my children – my students – myself.

I wish I could say that when you reach a certain age, you don’t struggle and the answers are easier. The truth is, it’s just more frustrating when you make the same mistakes. All you can do is make the sacrifices, vow to do better, and then continue the work.

If you have a similar story, advice, or sympathy, I’d love to hear it. Right now my backside is a little sore from the kicking.



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