Another Year Wiser
Today I turn 32. I remember as a kid my aunt and mother used to send each other the same card each year when they were in their 30’s. My mom actually kept them on file in her cabinet and would pull one out the week before my aunt’s birthday to make sure her reminder arrived right on time.
It had a singing crow sitting on the fence that hummed out a little tune about crow’s feet and a few other signs of aging. Whatever it said, it made 30 seem really old when I was a kid.
Though I joke around with my husband that I am an old lady, I actually haven’t felt this young since I was a teenager. I also don’t think I’ve ever felt this blessed.
I have a good life. Â I live with perfect health, am the mother of two amazing kids, and spend each day with my best friend and biggest supporter of 13 years. I remind myself each day to remain humble and to not take anything for granted as the slightest alteration in life can make the largest changes.
Each day is filled with subtle reminders of this notion. Last month my husband lost a friend, who is our age, to terminal cancer. He left behind a wife and two children the same age as our own.Â I receive emails from friends, family, and even my readers with clips of bad news. Health issues, job loss, financial distress, and divorce just to name a few. Well, more than a few.
For the first time in my adult life we are living in times of uncertainty. We all acted blindsided when the meltdown began because life was so good for so many– almost too good– for so long. As a society we chose to live in excess because possibilities were endless. We didn’t see the bottom as we blindly jumped toward doing summersaults all the way down. Or maybe we saw it but chose to turn the other cheek.
But now we face it dead on. Every Western society is feeling the strain of our financial collapse. Greece, Iceland, Spain, Italy. So many countries are facing utter ruin. While the young democratic capitalist society of India, and the communist capitalist society of China are growing out of their clothes all too quickly, we are left to wonder whether they can support their own growth. Or will they, too, face the same hardship?
As fertility declines in the developed world, it climbs in some of the most impoverished countries like Nigeria where an average family has more than 7 children. While our baby boomers prepare for retirement, the fear looms that we may not have enough working citizens to support them. As babies are born in countries with no natural resources and corrupt governments, those citizens wonder how they are going to feed themselves.
It’s an incredible paradox, and likely one not seen in such a large measure ever in history. Our population is scheduled to reach 7 billion by month’s end. It’s remarkable to think how much of the world we don’t know.
Most of us don’t even know our own neighbors.
Ten years ago we didn’t bat an eyelash at the rest of the world. Property values were obscenely inflated. Money was cheap and we could borrow without any credentials to do so. Gold was cheap, too, for those of us smart enough to buy it. The dollar was worth something back then.
But, now it’s time to take those blinders off and realized that we aren’t much different than the rest of the world.
If we are ever going to find some resolve, we must become globally conscious. We must breath in all of these changes, all of these uncertainties, and actually do something about them on an individual level.
Last week I wrote a post titled Denying Your Own Potential. It was really about doing what you love with Â your life, and so many of us still don’t know what we love to do.
Now I reach out to you on a grander level. I want you to find your purpose. To live with purpose.
Step outside of your own life and get to know the unfamiliar. The US soldiers who’ve been deployed for months on end. Who miss the births of their own children, birthday, holidays, home cooked meals. The citizens of Haiti, Japan, Pakistan, and other countries who’ve witnessed terrible devastation during natural disasters and are slowly trying to rebuild their lives.
Those in Turkey today who suffered the aftermath of a devastating earthquake.
Your neighbor who lost his job and will soon lose his home. The veteran standing on your street corner asking for change.
That is the real world. I ask that you live it in, not outside of it. Find your purpose and make a difference, even if it seems incremental.
I also ask that you develop more awareness of your own future. Even if you live with your own uncertainties, still think about what is in store for you in 10, 20, and even 40 years from now. Spend a little less and save a little more. Pay down your debt and promise yourself not to create more no matter how tempting it becomes. Learn to live below your means because your future depends on it. That’s the only way to get ahead.
This may seem like a rather somber birthday post. But I only have a single candle and a single wish. This is it.