A big thanks to Tom Merriman for this month’s theme of “The Next Level“, which is timely for me as I’ve just completed my annual performance review at work, and as some of you know it hasn’t been that long since I finished grad school and transitioned back to some facsimile of normal human again.
So that’s gotten me to thinking what’s next? Where do I go from here? I’ve laid out my work goals with my manager, and have picked up some of my old hobbies again, but I also know myself well enough to know that I need a challenge. I have no doubt work will provide that in one area, but that’s the only the obligatory challenge. I also need voluntary ones, the kinds of things you do just to see if you can. I learned to scuba dive in my 30’s thanks to acquaintances who brought their dive gear along to a party at a lake, and when I asked a few too many questions, finally said to me “oh for God’s sake, here, put it on and get under water!” After a few minutes of breathing under water I was hooked, and those acquaintances, Mary and Mark, have become some of my dearest
friends and traveling companions. They are also guilty of introducing me to the best vacations I’ve ever had, sailing on a Windjammer ship.
But I often wonder, how many of us busily go through every day without moving to the next level in anything? You keep on doing the same things over and over, in a rut because it’s easy, or you’re just too busy to take the time to try something new, or too tired, or stressed or spread too thin or whatever. When was the last time you pushed yourself past your limits? It could be for something good, or scary, to get a good outcome or past a painful one. If we never try, we never find out what we’re capable of. I’ve had so much fun when I’ve taken a deep breath and taken a leap into the deep end, and I feel like my life is only just starting to unfold in front of me. Don’t misunderstand me, ain’t no way I am EVER, EVER getting on roller coasters. It’s not happening any more than bungee jumping will. Pigs will fly first. I mean, I have to draw the line somewhere, be reasonable for heaven’s sake. Scary good, terror stricken bad. Writing this blog was a little unnerving, scary came when I realized I actually had to tell people I was writing it in order for anyone to actually read it. Then I got a like, and another and another from a stranger, and from a couple of published authors, one of whom seems to be even more sarcastic than me (how is this possible, you ask? One of the great mysteries of life, right up there with “where is Jimmy Hoffa?” and “did Lee Harvey Oswald act alone?”) Suddenly, it was FUN! (Thanks everyone, you like me, you really…sorry, I watched the Academy Awards the other night, and just couldn’t help myself there for a moment.)
Last week my mother went to the funeral of one of her aunts who was 101. She sent me this summary about her Aunt Bernie: She went to college at the age of 55 and got her degree, then applied to the Peace Corp but was rejected because she was too old! After that she taught school at the Indian Mission in Zuni, New Mexico, and then got her Masters in Bi-Cultural Studies. All of that after the age I am now, and now I’m feeling the pressure. Oh no, must Level Up! Achieve More!
Thanks to a lifelong dream, encouragement from Brenda, Diane, and the Professor who gave me a big verbal kick in the keister a couple of weeks ago and the voices in my head (don’t anyone even go there) my Leveling Up means my next post will be fiction, and I’m going to start writing the book I always said I would (yes, Brenda, I still have my idea notes.) Of course, now I’ll have to create an Aunt Bernie in it. And Brenda, Diane and the Professor. ( with Gilligan, the Skipper too …just kidding. Gilligan and the Skipper won’t be really be in there. I’m just checking to see who’s paying attention. As for the rest of you, I make no promises. )
What’s your next level ?