Age is relative, life is right now
I am writing this column on a peaceful Sunday morning, snuggled on the couch with my 3-year-old. He is entranced by a Winnie the Pooh movie, watching with determination as he jams his finger farther up his nose. Stuffed, and I do mean stuffed, inside my belly is my second child.
In a few short months, he will enter this world oblivious to this moment and thousands of others I've shared with my firstborn. I can't wait to meet the new life growing inside me; at the same time, I'm in no rush.
I'm savoring how it feels to hold two of my greatest loves in my lap: squishy, adorable and affectionate son on one side; notebook, pen, and passion for writing on the other.
I became painfully aware of the passing of time at age 18, when I lost the grandmother I adored to cancer. She was only 55 when she left this world, and I'm thankful I had the privilege of saying goodbye. Still, it happened too quickly. I returned from my first year of college, looking forward to spending summer days with her. Instead, the family was greeted by unexpected news that the disease had consumed her body. Devastated, I spent nights lying by her side on the hospital bed, stroking her arm and breathing her in, feeling her slip away. Three weeks later, she was gone.
I did not realize the deep psychological and emotional effect this experience had on me until a decade later, when I was a successful television journalist contemplating a career change. That's when I realized I could actually see life passing before my eyes. But it did not motivate me as some might expect. It did the opposite — leaving me paralyzed in the decisionmaking process, terrified to do something new.
My perspective began to shift when I was introduced to "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle. For quite possibly the first time in my life, I understood how healing and invigorating it is to live in the present moment. I also discovered another book, "Tuesdays With Morrie" by Mitch Albom, which illustrates the same point. In this compelling story, young and ambitious Albom learns how to live each day as if he were dying.
Awareness of my own mortality wakes me up, reminding me to look out my window and admire the colorful petunias hanging in moss-filled baskets on my porch. To set my laptop aside and hug my child, intent on pressing his nose into my eye socket and smothering me with kisses. With my attention set to the present, I'm more inclined to initiate a tickle fight than dismiss him and say, "Not now. Mommy's working."
Moxie shares stories of women of all ages. We are separated by generational differences while connected by the truth that the woman's journey is timeless. We continue to learn from those who have come before us, while recognizing that those who come after have plenty to teach us, too.
Physical age is relative. Recently I exchanged e-mails with a friend in another state who was depressed about turning 40. I made light of her despair by sending her a card, explaining I had offed Glinda, the "aging" fairy, with a bug zapper. I assured her 40 is not old, as my heart was breaking because my son is already 3.
Our human nature compels us to cling to images of the past and push toward a brighter future, which remains just beyond our grasp. But to quote one of my favorite female artists, Joss Stone, "A many clock upon the wall; the time is always now."
As you read this column, feel the newspaper between your fingers or notice the colors illuminating your computer screen. Observe the texture of the chair on which you sit, the smell of the air, the sounds that swirl around.
No matter the pain we carry, the hope we hold on to — we have the gift and opportunity to be alive, right now.
Angie Mizzell is a writer at heart. Read more of her essays and join the conversation at www.angiemizzell.com.