Post Number 3 for WeGo Health’s National Health Blog Posting Month: 30 posts/30 days: Write a letter to your 18-year-old self. Tell her what to do more of, what to do less of, and what she has to look forward to.
While there are undoubtedly some things I might have done differently in the past had I been privileged with foreknowledge from 37 years into the future, the fact is that I didn’t have that foreknowledge. I’ve had to make my decisions as best I could. Sometimes I sought advice from my parents, other members of my family, my friends or co-workers. Sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes I just used my own knowledge and experience to make the decision to leap off the precipice into the unknown, my eyes and heart wide open.
It’s what we all do. Not a single one of us knows what the future holds for us. Life is a gorgeous gamble.
And like everyone else, sometimes I’ve crashed to the ground and burned. Fortunately, those times have happened far less often than my more successful flights. Looking back, I’m satisfied with where I’ve been and how far I’ve come. And frankly, there’s a lot I’m glad I didn’t know about before it happened.
If I’d known at the age of 18 that 13 years into the future I’d be diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and that I’d suffer terrible, often disabling pain off and on for the next 24-years-after-that-and-counting, I’d have been absolutely terrified. And what might I have done with that knowledge?
Maybe I wouldn’t have decided, after a couple of years of college, to join the Air Force. If I hadn’t, I would never have met Mr Wren–and I would never have given birth to my sweet daughter Cary. Perhaps I wouldn’t have gone through our later, devastating divorce, either. We were so young and so stupid. But then I wouldn’t have gotten married again to another man, and I wouldn’t have gone to Germany to live for six years. If I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have gotten my job with the U.S. Army Public Affairs office–the job that introduced me to journalism, which I loved more than any other work I’ve ever done–and if I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have later worked for several newspapers back here in the States as a reporter, and then as an assistant editor, and then as a managing editor with a staff of reporters of my own. I also might not have returned to California after the second, sad divorce, or hooked up serendipitously with Mr Wren again, and then remarried him, and stayed with him for the next 15 years and counting…
Having RA has made me mindful. Like anyone else I have dreams and I try my best to plan for the future, but the reality is that I can only live today, right now, in this present moment. And so it’s up to me to make this moment the best that I can make it. While I hope I’ve learned from my mistakes, I’m not sorry for any of them. They’ve made me what I am today, and today is making me what I’ll be tomorrow. Life is too short and too precarious to waste regretting the past or worrying about the future.
My life is precious, a flawed diamond but a diamond just the same. I wouldn’t change a thing.