|A labyrinth near my new home|
One of the few times I've ever felt depressed was when I bought my first house with my first husband. We were on our way back to college after he returned from Vietnam and finished his tour with the Marine Corps. The government offered some sort of assistance for first-time home buyers and tacked on a requirement that it be new construction. There was ONE such house available in Stillwater, Oklahoma ... a tiny cookie-cutter, scraped-bare dirt lawn on the edge of town. One day, a lonesome cow wandered into our yard and ate my newly planted red bud tree. It was that kind of place.
We were thrilled to find affordable housing, however that's when a strange spiral of depression began. I knew I should feel elated, however, instead, I felt burdened. Instead of feeling a pride of ownership, I felt owned and some sort of fear about losing something I wasn't even sure I wanted.
Over time though, I put the feeling aside and went on with life, bought and sold many houses, tried different housing options, and one more husband (who left way too soon). It wasn’t until this week when I was moving my thrice-downsized stuff into Friendship Manor, a senior community on the edge of the UCSB campus, that I realized the feeling of being owned by houses had evaporated. I was/am free … free of the expectations and responsibility of home ownership. Free of the expectations of being an “adult.”
Somehow I’ve entered a zone of freedom from expectations … most likely of my own creation since I don’t think other people are bothering to create expectations of me. As the old joke goes: when I was 20, I worried about what people thought about me. When I turned 40, I quit worrying about what people thought about me. When I was 60, I realized they weren’t thinking about me.
As I approach the next number in that double-decade series, I am truly realizing that this is MY life, the only life I have and what I do with it is my choice. This morning, a friend used the metaphor that we are in the home stretch and it made me think of Rich Strike, the horse that stole our hearts at the Kentucky Derby. Rich Strike lit our imaginations and brought home the message that it’s not over until it’s over and the expectations of others do not create our reality.
Few of us will carry off a win like the Kentucky Derby, however, as long as we’re running our own race, doing what we love to do, and giving it our all, we will take home the roses. And, there's another metaphor ... what exactly do we ... each one of us ... mean by "take home the roses?"