Yesterday, I woke up at 5:30am to do nothing other than to be alone. I didn’t run, I didn’t workout, I didn’t do anything active. I simply drank the most the most wonderful cup of coffee uninterrupted while listening to the rain through open living room windows. Lucy was at my feet, looking up at me with milk cow eyes, hinting for a walk, despite the wet weather while the rest of the house caught their last few moments of sleep.
We’re currently in that most glorious stretch of spring – the handful days when air conditioning is unnecessary and open windows are enough. The breeze billows the curtains (the few we actually have) and flutters whatever loose papers are scattered about the house. If only the cut flowers from Easter weren’t wilting (my thumb is black) and the window panes weren’t decorated with sticky handprints that are suspiciously the same size as our daughter’s – it perhaps, just perhaps could be a magazine-perfect picture or at the very least, Facebook-worthy.
I suppose you could say that I’m trying to open more windows in my life – literally and figuratively. While I certainly don’t feel old, the reality of my mortality is more present than it was during my twenties. Clay often responds with “Don’t talk like that!” when I ask if I am going to die without seeing the Eiffel Tower in person (yes, I’ve never been to Paris and yes, 13-year-old Karen is quite mad at 32-year-old Karen), let alone something more exotic like…walking across the Hanging Bridge of Ghasa in Nepal.
That’s not to say that I don’t think my life is full, quite the contrary – I’ve been married to an incredible man for over 10 years and together we have two children who challenge us daily to be the best versions of ourselves. I am healthy and I am alive. What could there possibly be to complain about? But nestled within my thankfulness and gratefulness for such a wonderful life is a small fear of complacency. I know I’m not alone in this fear – after all, not many of us want a life less lived. I want to expose myself to elements that are new and sometimes scary. I want to be uncomfortable more and cozy less (maybe that is why I enjoy moving every 2-3 years?). While I have been making an effort to apply such ideas into practice, I know I need to open more windows and not let fear of the unknown inhibit my goals and dream, not matter how seemingly unattainable.
There will always be people wanting to shut the windows you’ve opened – naysayers who laugh at your goals and would rather see you fail than achieve what they can’t or aren’t at least willing to try. But just because they’re comfortable in their air-conditioned rooms, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be slightly uncomfortable and focused on the opportunities found on the other side of the open window.
I had full intention of waking up at 5:30am again this morning but I forgot to set my alarm. Instead, I awoke shortly thereafter due to fire sirens heard through our open bedroom window. The universe can be amusing like that.
“We must be brave. It is one thing to speculate about what might be. It is quite another to act in behalf of our dreams, to treat them as objectives that are achievable and worth achieving. It is one thing to run from unhappiness; it is another to take action to realize those qualities of dignity and well-being that are the true standards of the human spirit.” Tim O’Brien, Going After Cacciato