Some people can tell you exactly what happened on any given date. They can recall where they were and what they did from dawn until dusk. My memory doesn’t work like that. Days from my past are blurry. Of course, I do remember certain specific events. But I wouldn’t be able to tell you the exact date on which these events took place. There is one exception to this rule, though… August 12, 1995.
This day remains crystal clear in my mind. I even remember what I was wearing – a white sleeveless t-shirt, gray Jodhpur pants, and black dressage boots. If I close my eyes, I can watch the day unfold, like a home-movie in my head. At three o’clock in the afternoon, I picked up the phone, made a call, and told the person on the other end of the line that it was the best day of my life.
The events that took place on August 12, 1995, led me to make a decision that had a massive impact on my life. It was the worst decision I could have made. Sure, I was just a kid back then. Having said this, I was mature enough to understand how the decision could affect my future. I understood but I didn’t care about potential future ramifications. Being young, sheltered, and naive, I chose to believe that everything would work out well.
There is a lyric in a Rolling Stones song that goes something along the lines of: “You can’t always get what you want. But, sometimes, you get what you need.” On August 12, 1995, I got exactly what I wanted. It was the last thing I needed.
I could have and should have changed the course of my life a year later, or the year after that. Five or even ten years later, I could have and should have done so. But I didn’t. I told myself that I had legitimate reasons to maintain the status quo. I was convinced that I was needed right where I was at the time. Looking back, I realize my legitimate reasons were nothing more than excuses. The truth is that laziness and a fear of the unknown kept me from making any changes and attempting to move forward with my life. So I waited.
I waited too long. As recently as two years ago, I could still have turned things around and made a fresh start. Today, circumstances beyond my control, keep me trapped in my current situation. At this point, I am a prisoner of my own device. Good things don’t always come to those who wait. I know that now. I waited too long.
There are moments when I feel as though Hotel California is the theme song for my life. The Eagles sing, “You can check out anytime you like. But you can never leave.” I know I have to stay positive and keep working on my goals, and I’m determined to do just that. I will admit that thinking positively doesn’t come naturally to me, though. I have to work at it.
I suppose the lesson I’ve learned is that if an opportunity presents itself, take it. Don’t hold back because you’re afraid of the unknown. Attempting to maintain the status quo limits your chances of creating a better future. In short: enjoy the moment but plan for the future.
I made a bad decision back in 1995. Due to my own inaction in the following years, I’m paying for that decision more than two decades later. And now I’m stuck in my own version of Hotel California, unable to check out, at least for the foreseeable future.
If you’ve visited my blog before, you’ll know that I have certain routines.
1) I wake up every morning and vow to make the best of the day ahead. Sometimes, making the best of it is something as simple as enjoying a sweet, innocuous Hallmark movie in which everything works out for the best in the end.
2) I remind myself to be grateful for the things I have before I go to bed at night. These are things such as the roof overhead, the clothes on my back, and the food in my belly. I also have my eyesight, my hearing, and my sense of taste, touch, and smell intact. My body is in one piece and my legs can take me wherever I need to go. Countless people aren’t so fortunate.
3) I tell the people who are important to me that I love them at least once during the course of the day. And, most importantly, I mean it. I know that “I love you” are just words. But I hope the people I say those words to can feel the truth in them.
These three routines help me when I feel depressed about being stuck. I might not be where I want to be but I have a lot to be grateful for. I will keep doing my best to make the most of every day. And the next time an opportunity comes along that will enable me to move forward, I will grab it with both hands.