What image would you create if you could paint your future? Would the backgrounds be colorful or monotone? Is the landscape urban, suburban, rural? Are you on a stage, in a boardroom, in a racecar, or on top of the world? If you could paint your future what colors would you use? Do you have a collage of experiences depicted on every square inch of canvas? Is there more emptiness, or a single focal point? As children, we imagine and reimagine our futures every day like an endless movie reel. As adults, we are seldom without pressing concerns which squeeze the imagination right out of us. As a child, we can imagine something new every day. As an adult, we wonder if we can have a mulligan.
My mother had me when she was 33 years of age which meant that I distinctly remember when she turned 40; I was six. Leading up to the day and forever after she greeted the number with excitement and glee. “Life begins at 40,” she’d squeal with delight. Her exuberance at turning 40 was infectious, and when I had my 40th birthday, I was excited. Even my husband got in on the fun when he turned 40; it felt like a new beginning. Forty is a great age; you’re still young and healthy enough to enjoy yourself but old enough to have more wisdom than your youth. You’ve had enough years to appreciate the important things in life as opposed to the latest fad.
My Mom learned to do so many things after she turned forty. She went camping for the first time, sleigh riding, got her Bachelor’s Degree, all types of exciting accomplishments! When we were tiny, she would take us sledding but would never go down with us. The hill was steep, and we flew with dizzying speed toward giant hay bales at the bottom of the slopes. Flexible Flyers will always be the best sleds in my book. For her first foray into the world of sledding, we took her across the street to the park. There was a pretty significant hill between the top field and the lower children’s playground. I can’t remember whether it was she or me that ended by crashing gloriously into a chain link fence, but it didn’t matter, her excitement was palpable. She had been sledding.
Similarly, when we went camping for the first time in the mountains, we started with only a small pup tent for the three of us. As the youngest, I got to sleep m style over their legs. We were all small, so the two-man tent worked fine for a few of years or at least until we found out that you couldn’t spray bug spray inside the tent or it would destroy the waterproofing. We ended up soaked through. The only thing still waterproof was the floor liner that kicked up about three or four inches around the sides, it made a perfect collection pool. We got better at it each year and added to our gear until we had a nice little setup. Mom started camping after forty as well.
If I think about her painted life, I’d say it starts a bit dark in the beginning and gets progressively more colorful as the paint spreads across the canvas. That’s what I want. Though mine would start with only a few colors, as the years progress, they would become brighter, more brilliant, more vibrant, & stunningly beautiful. If I could paint my life, I would seek out the most fantastic collection of colors and pray to find a way to incorporate them all.