Dante put it best than anybody:
Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
che la diritta via era smarrita.
Age-wise, I am somewhat past Dante’s point of reckoning as he penciled the verses of his masterpiece and bought himself a ticket to literary eternity. Maybe because I am older, I have to admit being on the other side of the dark or shadowed forest feels really good.
It is 2020 and the world is in chaos. I’m sitting on my couch, typing these words and absorbing the calm and the happiness of being healthy and at peace with myself for now. I do not know that I could have said this before I turned the corner of my half century. I did not have this much time to pause and look around before COVID-19 struck. I did not even have the luxury of stopping to embrace being home, enjoying the mere business of being.
Over the past several years, traveling has taken up a large share of my life. Looking back on the roaring Boeing days that ended last March 13th, I cannot thank my life enough for giving me so many adventures explorations, even though I wish I had been able to share some of them with the person. As is common with humans, it is hard for us to see how blessed we are until one or several of life’s sledgehammers hit us on the face. I have come to the point where I can see it too. After all these years, I have gained that awareness, at least.
My life past is amazing, but bittersweet. I have spent too much time trying to be the “be all and end all” for people I have fallen madly in love with. I have operated on the wrong assumption that being a good girl would eventually pay off. Spoiler alert: it does not, at least not to the extent of the investment you will be making. Maybe a lot of you already know it, you younger souls who know everything. I did not. Nobody taught me to feel that I was worthy of anything decent happening to me; it took me a very long time to be able to feel it. It took me years to learn that the best that can happen to you is to feel that you have nothing, absolutely nothing to lose. If you can create that energy of fearlessness around you, you can accomplish anything.
If I were to be a wise parent to my younger self, this is what I would say: embrace anything and everything you can, because “some other time” is never a given. Get out there every morning — whether to work or to do anything else with your life — knowing that the outcome of what you do does not matter too much because it will be graded by others, at work or in life. Rest assured that, as long as you have honestly put your energy, convictions and passion to the service of your goal, you have done a service to yourself and to the world you live in.
After all, never mind what others say. Remember you have nothing to lose.