Over the years, I have been asked one question many times and in many ways. The question is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Every time I’ve struggled to answer it. The question feels too definitive and simplistic. As if there is some single answer rather than a hundred different things at a hundred different times in a hundred different places. Like a period instead of a sunburst.
A couple of years ago when I wrote my personal vision statement the question was different. It asked me to, “Create a vision for your life.” All of a sudden, things changed. I had a framework for thinking about my life that was no longer linear, but limitless. Without limits I crafted a picture of my future — or at least the future I wanted for myself. I wrote this:
The oracle is hard to find — she may be bobbing in a sailboat, sitting in a hammock or walking on a forest path. She’s a tiny, energetic, white-haired pixie, so your best bet is to find the tall, quiet man always by her side. Many seek her out with questions, for her motto is “It is harder to ask the right question than to find the wrong answer.” She has the uncanny ability to listen, to reflect her own perspective and to help each visitor sort out his or her messy burden. Just don’t come in a hurry, sorting takes time and there is nothing the oracle likes better than a good chat.
Thinking about everything and putting it to paper, I didn’t come up with a fancy job title or a big paycheck or worldwide fame. In my future, I’m not living in a massive house or jet-setting around the globe. Nope, in the end when I put it down on paper I chose to be an oracle. When it was all said and done what I longed for was three things: longevity, wisdom and relationships.
Growing old is not something that scares me. Each new year and each new series of experiences has given me courage and strength. I don’t miss the young me and I am not nostalgic for times that are past. I get that I don’t understand yet what aging does to the body or the mind or the spirit. I embrace the fact that I may learn to dread the years that come as too hard or too painful, but I really hope not. For me, the power is in longevity, and I want to see the me that is more, even more me, than I am now.
And I hope that as I grow older I can continue to gain wisdom. I hope that I am open to the new possibilities of the world and that I don’t cling to the knowledge of the past. I hope that I continue to stretch my brain to think bigger so that I maintain relevance to those of my generation as well as those who are many years my junior. I hope I learn every day and turn that learning into the kind of relevant wisdom that can be harnessed.
I have stopped pretending that relationships are unimportant to me and I have embraced the fact that they are everything to me. Believing that there are people who know me and value me for who I am is at my core. Showing up every single day — reliably and sincerely — and investing the time and energy in family, friends and colleagues gives me purpose. The occasional points when it has given me pain, well, it’s a price worth paying.
So, if those three things are important to me — if they are central to how I see myself and what I want to accomplish with my life — is it any wonder that writing this blog has become such an integral part of my experience? Although the digital world can get wiped clean with a bolt of lightning or a electromagnetic pulse, each feels incredibly permanent when I hit ‘post.’ Although I know I have much to learn, I try to channel little bits of wisdom into each page, and writing each post makes me think, really think, about a piece of my life. And, although I hope that someday my musings may reach a broader audience, these posts are all about building more bridges of connection between me and the people who read them — people not afraid to get Too Much Mel.
Now you know what the end game is. You know that someday, many many years from now I’ll be waiting. I’ll be waiting for your call, your email or your visit. I’ll be ready to listen for a minute or an hour or an afternoon. Someday after another 50 or 500 blog posts maybe I’ll be famous or maybe I’ll still be known only in my small circles. Either way, you’ll always be welcome.
Don’t disappoint me.