My flight is good, a little late but good. I spy my suitcase the instant I set eyes on the luggage carousel. It’s always wonderful to see my parents. We dine at the amazing Parker’s Bistro which we’ve loved since they opened. Right as we walk in, I see a lovely couple I used to see in yoga classes when I lived here. What could be better?
This is the ideal homecoming, but fortunately not rare since I come back to the Sioux Falls, South Dakota area and stay with my parents on their gorgeous prairie estate four or five times a year. Sometimes I have a speaking engagement so I literally get paid to come home. More often, I simply come to visit because I love it. I love my folks, extended family and all the friends I have in the Midwest. I’ve had plenty time to form long lasting friendships here since I lived in the Sioux Falls area from the age of 3 thru the age of 34. I graduated from high school in the Augustana College gymnasium and then had my college freshman orientation in the the same Augustana College gymnasium because Augie would be my college for the next five years.
For the past decade, I’ve absolutely adored residing in San Diego, and, at the same time, being able to come back to South Dakota fairly often. Truly for me, this is the best of both worlds.
Idyllic you might say, except….
Do you have things in your life that you consider idyllic, except?
That EXCEPT can loom huge in our minds, more like
I’ve found through a lifetime of experimentation that the human mind, at least my human mind, can make any tremendous situation much less than idyllic.
Some of my typical less than idyllic thoughts when I’m visiting Sioux Falls involve sadness, regret and frustration. Thoughts that try to answer nagging questions like:
- Why didn’t I get married 20 years ago?
- Why don’t I have a wife and kids to bring home to see Grandma and Grandpa?
- Why am I not a doctor, lawyer or car dealership owner, something more predictable than being a professional speaker with a speech impediment?
It just occurred to me that being a speaker with a speech impediment is a bit like being a “Boy Named Sue.” Jonny Cash anyone?
In my perfect world, I wouldn’t devote my mental energy trying to answer nagging, ultimately, unanswerable questions.
It’s weird. At age 43, I’m SOOOO glad I lead the exact life I do, but tonight I’m also dwelling on thoughts I find unlovely such as:
- My parents are getting older.
- I’m getting older.
- Time is going so fast.
- I might have wasted my life.
Do you ever have thoughts that are like a swarm of bees? The more you swat, the more they swarm and sting?
Almost as if to put a bow on these painful musings, as my plane was landing in Sioux Falls, I was flipping through the airline magazine and saw an ad for a dating site for people fifty and up. The thought that instantly appeared like a bee swarm in my brain was In a little over six years, I will be fifty AND I could very well still be single.
At that moment, I would have much rather been a “Boy Named Sue.”
At least, I would have been a boy, and not a single man squarely in middle age.
We have a clear but not always easier choice:
Do we cope with all the changes that come with the unavoidable passing of time by living in tremendous regret for what we can’t change?
Or do we cope with these changes by living in gratitude for the brilliance of life and all the good things?
We each get to explore how we answer these questions each and every day.
NOTE: I find myself revising this as I fly back from South Dakota to San Diego. I notice that my vacation wasn’t ruined by what I wrote about above. Quite the opposite happened. My vacation was utterly splendid. It’s almost as if by simply acknowledging it, I freed myself to move forward and concentrate on other things.
JASON FREEMAN is a Professional Speaker and the proud owner of a Speech Impediment. He is also the author of “Awkwardly Awesome: Embracing My Imperfect Best” and a Perseverance Coach.
He excites and encourages his audience to break through the barriers of their own limitations using a method he created, called “doing your Imperfect Best ™”.
His Imperfect TEDx Talk can be viewed here.
Photo by Pawel Janiak on Unsplash