Creating my birthday collage last week meant going through about six big boxes of photos, greeting cards, and other memorabilia that I hadn’t opened since I moved to my house three years ago, The boxes contained both my things and the memory boxes I had taken from my mom’s house.
My mom saved EVERYTHING! All of my brother’s and my report cards, samples of the first papers I wrote in cursive, and cards that I made for my mom and dad. There were a few cool postcards sent from two of my uncles during the Korean war and a not so cool box of funeral notices.
There was a box dedicated to my brother, who died at age 39. It held the baby blue cigar box my dad had purchased to hand out smokes to commemorate the day my brother was adopted. I found the tie my brother wore for his first communion and another tie worn for confirmation. There was a collection of photos, including those from my brother’s wedding, and later photos of his daughter. And there was a copy of the service that was held for my brother’s funeral.
It was hard flipping through that expanse of time. Seeing a life begin and then end too quickly.
I found myself sitting cross-legged on the floor, immersed in a time capsule of remembering, regretting, and wishing things had been different. All of my issues with aging seemed to be amplified as image after image flipped from beginning to end. Less is possible now than when I was younger, not just because of changing physical abilities but because there’s less time left to accomplish all the things I want to do.
Lately my focus has been on retirement, the next big life event, and trying to make sure I have my finances in order. Will my money last until the end? Which has me asking new questions. Like how little can I get by on? Do I work until I have a nest egg that I think will allow me to travel and have some fun? Or do I simplify what I think it takes to enjoy life and retire earlier?
What truly makes life enjoyable? And how do I learn to find those cheap thrills and start incorporating more of them into my life right now?
What do you think? Do you have a clear picture of how you want to live? It seems like that should be such an easy question to answer, and yet…
When someone opens the box (symbolically or physically) that holds the photos and memorabilia of your life, what will be inside?