Just for kicks, I decided to turn 57 years old this week.
As a teenager, I figured anybody who had passed the big Five-Oh should be darn grateful for any breath of life left in them and view it as a bonus. If I made it to 57, I’d know everything I’d ever be required to know.
However, with information advancing like a cheetah across the Serengeti, I’m the orangutan who’s already so far behind I may as well give up. But giving up is not really an option—especially if I want to keep earning a living. Or communicating with family members. Or eating.
So in honour of another year, I thought I’d share three things I’ve learned since my last birthday. If I can remember what they are.
#1. It’s never too late for dreams to come true.
On this day last year, I had pretty much given up on ever seeing the publication of my novel, The Silver Suitcase. In God’s humorous sense of timing, it was the day after my birthday when the call came. Now the book has taken wing and I’ve moved on to another. Recently, I cried when I came across a blog post from my birthday in 2012. I’d written it in my disappointment after watching The Silver Suitcase do well in an important publishing contest—but not well enough to win, and no second prize was offered. In light of all that has transpired since composing that column, you can see why my own words affected me:
“God loves me too much to let me receive things for which I’m not ready. Too much to allow my book to see publication before it’s the best it can be. Too much to make it easy for me. Too much to not teach me patience and persistence. Too much to strike me dead for questioning his strange timing. Too much to let my influence outgrow my character.
"Been disappointed lately? Maybe God loves you too much, too. Promise me you won’t quit. I sure don’t intend to.”
Wow. Am I ever glad I didn’t! (You can view that post in its entirety HERE.)
#2. It’s always too soon to sit back on your laurels.
I thought I’d lay the writing aside and focus on my family while I prepared for the visit of my daughter and baby grandson from Calgary. My plan was to spend the long weekend cooking up a freezer full of food and cleaning house.
Surprise! An email from my agent informed me I needed to put together something called a two-page “Treatment” of my novel in order for her to pitch it to filmmakers at an upcoming conference. Oh, and by the way, she needed it in four days.
I didn’t even know what a “Treatment” was. But after some mild panic, prayer, internet research, and hubby’s agreement to vacuum the house, I figured it out and got the task done and delivered. So now I know something I didn’t know I didn’t know—that a Treatment is a short piece of prose, typically the step between scene cards and the first draft of a screenplay for a motion picture.
The odds of my efforts amounting to a film are remote, but you have to try, right?
#3. The trash will still be there.
You can publish a book, take home the big award, win the election or the game or the amazing race. You can receive enough handshakes and smiles and congratulatory hugs to last a lifetime. But when you return home, the trash will still need to be carried out. The laundry will still need to be done, the toilets still scrubbed. More importantly, your loved ones will still need to know they count more than any achievement, and what they will remember about you after you’re gone is not how much you accomplished but how much you cared.
And if I don’t learn that lesson well, nothing else will matter.