Saturday, August 6, 2011

Helping Hand

  I woke up early today and met Pam (whom I hadn't seen since May 2010 when we met by chance in New York city) at Einstein Brothers in Prairie Village for some breakfast and conversation. I wore the bracelet she had given me, just to make sure she recognized me. We talked and talked—literally as if we had known each other for years!, and I couldn't believe it when I looked at my watch and 5 hours had flown by.
   Pam is essentially me at 62 years old. It's remarkable how much we have in common. She's very wise and has learned and grown from some of the same experiences and thoughts I'm having now... it was like talking to a crystal ball.
      She helped me think through the advantages of adding greater prioritization to my life, of de-emphasizing or altogether cutting out activities that don't fit my goals or bring me great joy. I don't have to give everything 110%, nor should I continue to try, if it's burning me out. Having an enormous amount of drive and energy can be a curse in that way: like Pam when she was younger, I just don't know when to quit.
   I haven't yet made my list, but I am thinking about it. She reminded me that, although it sounds difficult, if I cut back on my volunteering, someone else will step up. I don't have to take on as much as I do—there will always be another solution.
  She taught me so much, but ultimately the advice she gave me that resonated most was, "Trust in yourself, not the outcome." Basically, in an uncertain situation, choose to trust in yourself and live in the moment, rather than try to work out the outcome. Let it unfold on its own, and whatever will be, will be. By nature I am a problem-solver and like to find answers expeditiously. But that can prematurely close the door on opportunity.
   I liken that to my travel philosophy: when I was going on a trip, I used to plan everything out meticulously: where I would stay, how would I get around, where would I eat, where would I shop... just planning all that took a lot of time, but I used to enjoy it. Then on one particular trip (trying to remember which one), I didn't have time to plan, and had to wing it. And it turned out to be my favorite trip up to that point, because while I gave up the security of a plan, I gained a sense of adventure and discovery. And I'd take those over security any day.
   One of my other favorite things that she told me was that years ago she attended a religious retreat, with a group of people mostly much older than herself. They went around the room and shared their biggest regrets. Their stories were different, but there was a common thread: they all wished they had taken more risks in their lives. And she said, "That's something you and I will never be saying."
   I owe a lot to Pam for giving up her entire Saturday morning and treating me to breakfast and some sage advice from someone who has been there. She also bestowed me with a necklace to match the wonderful bracelet she gave me last year. I hope someday I can do for someone else what she has done for me.