The day after I turned 60 last month, we head to the Smokies to meet up with our best friends of 35 years. The picture you see is taken from the deck of a stunning mountain property we stayed in for the weekend.
Surrounded by mountain vistas, close friends, music, and an ample supply of wine and dark chocolate, I open up birthday gifts. One of the gifts is not wrapped. In fact, it has no material shape. It comes as a favor of sorts. The gift is bestowed upon me by my friend, John.
John gives me carte blanche to select all the restaurants we eat at that weekend. Now I am prepared to select one restaurant for my birthday dinner, but never expected to be making decisions on the other meals. I admit to being nonplussed with this gesture on John's part. Food is very important to John, and his food preferences are very strong (and often opposed to mine).
As John continued to insist that I select ALL the restaurants, I tell him that I should be recording this for posterity. John lets me know that this offer expires after the weekend, so I better enjoy it while I can.
While all this is going on, I am experiencing some silent inner discombobulation. My personality is geared towards looking out for the needs of the group. It takes me a few minutes to actually get in gear with the program of picking out whatever I WANT! Even if it means that someone else won't like my choice.
And so it goes. I take some time to ask myself what I want. And I get exactly what I want for each of the meals we eat out at . . . Italian one night; seafood another; and pancakes for lunch!
This experience reminds me to be clear about what I want, at least to myself. It's not so much about getting my way. It is about being present enough to ask myself the question instead of responding in a rote mode.
Interestingly this begins to have a ripple effect in my life during the following week. In my interactions with both my husband, and with business colleagues, I find myself stopping to become aware of what I want and how I want to respond. As a result, I saved myself from unnecessary hassle. The difference being that I can choose when I want to go the extra mile, not that I HAVE to do it automatically. That is very freeing, if I do say so myself.
If you are not yet 60, my advice to you is to learn from my insight, and apply it to your life, much sooner than I did!