I sat at the kitchen table and sliced my fork through the leftover half of the double layer cake. Funfetti, mmm. A party in my mouth. To my right, a cup of frozen yogurt; to my left, a box of gourmet cupcakes.
As I raised the fork to my mouth, I frowned and pondered aloud, “I just don’t get it. I usually eat so healthy.” I stuffed the cake in my mouth. Oh yes, a party, indeed. “Why can’t I lose any weight?”
My friend snorted and we dissolved into a fit of laughter. I’d come over to drown my sorrows in sugar and help eat up her birthday leftovers while procrastinating on the real work I should be doing. We found ourselves giggling hysterically over nonsense and immersed in a conversation that started with comparing relationships to cupcakes but somehow meandered its way down the path toward contemplating the meaning of life.
“If I died tomorrow, I’d be pretty pissed off that this is all my life amounted to,” I commented soberly, looking down at the frosting encased crumb trail in front of me. We laughed it off, and talked about the things we would change if we could wake up tomorrow with slightly different lives (like smaller tummies, handsome, rich, country-singing husbands, private jets, a frozen yogurt machine with 50 available flavors, and other such things that
mature, ambitious, well-adjusted women our age wish for).
In retrospect, though, I’ve wondered if that comment were really true. Sure, I’d be disappointed for all the things I didn’t get to do, but am I truly dissatisfied with what I’ve done with my life so far? I spent a good amount of time mulling it over and letting morbid thoughts cross my mind like what they’d say at my funeral (don’t act like I’m some freak, you know you’ve done it, too). I’ve since decided that I don’t really feel that way about my life, but that the comment was only a dark reflection of the phase I was going through, recently.
You see, September was a rough month for me. August a little bit, too. It’s why I’ve hardly written on this blog lately; I felt uninspired. Recurring health issues left me virtually incapacitated for weeks at a time; I forced myself to power through most of it, but was left physically and emotionally drained. I spent a week traveling for work (brief synopsis: Memphis is not my favorite city, and if you go there you may find yourself driving 45 minutes across the city just to find a Whole Foods because you are so sick of fried food and just want some goddamn spinach!) but I’ll tell you more about that another day.
I had an incredibly important application due and an aerial performance for which I was ill-prepared. I couldn’t sleep at night due to the stress. And in the thick of it all, I tried to rekindle my dating life; I met a guy, we hit it off instantly, I thought it was all peachy and then the world was like, “HA! Just kidding, you don’t have a dating life“. I mean, really, what fun would it be for the rest of the world if Kaleena actually settled down and started a normal dating pattern? I think it would let a lot of people down. So, for now, the latest will go down on the list as the Mac’n’Cheese Man of September 2012. But I digress…
I had a lot going and I was becoming depressed. Nothing seemed to be going right, I had too much on my plate, and I felt like a failure from every angle.
Have you ever walked past a rose bush and noticed that it’s not until a moment after passing it that you smell the sweet scent of its petals? I realized that yesterday, as I walked past the blooming white rose bush outside my office. And in that moment it occurred to me that sometimes life is like that: we pass by things so quickly that we don’t stop to appreciate them when they’re right in front of us. Every day I walk past that rose bush but I am so preoccupied with the phone call I need to make, the conversation I just had, the mounting to-do list, that I sometimes notice its fragrance only as a passing afterthought.
Although life recently has had its challenges, not every waking moment has actually been misery. I spent time at the beach, shared some great laughs with friends, and went on a few adventures. I became so bogged down by the stress of everything else, though, that I didn’t stop to truly appreciate those sweet moments. I’ve realized that sometimes I’m too hard on myself and I occasionally have a tendency to squander the present in concern for the future. While it’s okay to work hard toward a goal and fret a bit over how to make it all happen, there is no sense in wasting what we have right now in the present. Because, really, isn’t the present all we’re guaranteed?
So tomorrow, when I walk past that bush, I am going to be one cliché mother f***er, and stop and smell the roses. From now on, I will focus on living in the moment and being happy and proud of each step along the way. Because if I die tomorrow, I don’t want to be some pissed off ghost eating cake and regretting my life (okay, so I probably wouldn’t mind the cake part).