When you've been travelling down this one-way street for more than thirty-one years, you start losing sight of the things that could have been and start focusing on the bigger picture. Letting go of regret becomes much easier and we soon realise that the detours we take along the way are all part of our final destination. Before you know it, you're comfortably cruising on autopilot, planning for tomorrow and making sure that every step and decision made contributes towards the security of one's future. An affordable house, a financially secure job, mental happiness and a decent dental plan, healthy relationships, joint bank accounts and of course, frequent flyer miles. Yes, the perks of reinvention and growing up are knowing that you finally have somewhere to go and the best part about it is knowing how you're going to get there.
Sadly, not everyone is lucky enough to find themselves in life and sometimes, we come across an individual so horribly lost that it would probably take a GPS to find them. I'm not talking about your typically misguided ruffian i.e. an addict trapped inside their own tragic spin cycle (although the comparison is frighteningly similar) but the handful of people that seem genuinely stuck on something that's clearly no longer viable. Whether it's a career aspiration that never took off (and never will) or whether it's a static romance that's steadily going nowhere, we need to know when to give up and move onto the next best thing. I'm all for free spirits and dreaming large but when plan A is about as relevant as the Venga Boys and hinders the other possibilities and opportunities that lie before you, isn't it time to readjust the cognitive workings of one's mind, and one's heart?
I found Kate about two years ago at my favourite local Woolies Food Store whilst doing a little last minute Christmas shopping for our annual staff party. Amidst the rush and madness of patrons pacing back and forth, skimming the aisles for last minute specials, I stumbled upon this frumpy, woman of colour by the name of Kate. I knew this because I make a habit of reading people's name tags.
Kate, who could not have been much older than 38, was not the prettiest or smallest of women working on the floor that day, but she certainly had something about her not to mention the most welcoming smile and childlike twinkle in her eye. "May I help you?" she asked as I put on my favourite damsel in dis'dress face. "Yes, hi, I need forty Lindt Chocolate Santa's please preferably in the box so that it's easier for me to carry to the car."
"Right away." Kate moved across to the adjacent aisle where one of her male colleagues stood unpacking biscuits onto the shelves and sent him on a search and rescue mission. "This shouldn't take too long, " she said with confidence before returning to her station. "Would you like to try our gammon?"
I did want to try some gammon, and so we began making small talk while we waited for her colleague to return with my order. I soon found out that Kate was a single 43 year old mother of two that had been divorced from her deadbeat husband for nearly seven years. She was a Capricorn who had only recently started working. She had an affinity for romance novels and dreamt of writing her own book someday. I asked whether she had a real-life romance to base her novel on but she just blushed and laughed away shyly, as if I had suggested the impossible. She admitted that a big part of her had never fully recovered from her divorce and that she had felt lost and empty ever since, struggling to find purpose.
"It's much safer for me to bury myself in fiction than it is to create a brand new chapter. When you fall that hard, sometimes it's better to just lie there and do nothing." Here in the most unlikely of places and in such a short time, I was beginning to make a connection with a perfect stranger who was not only intelligent, opinionated and passionate but who also seemed to have given up on love, and life a little too prematurely. Of course it was natural for her to feel lost and meaningless, but was this dead end enough reason for her to give up completely? What was stopping Kate from steering her life towards a brand new direction? Was it better to stagnate in solace or should she be brave and look past yesterday's mistakes?
Some people really do have it all figured out and if I were them, I'd be thanking my lucky stars on the hour, every hour. For the rest of us struggling to find our purpose in life, it's okay to be a little lost from time to time but not for too long. No man or woman is an island so perhaps it's time that we allow ourselves to be found. Who knows what new experiences are waiting for us if we only have the heart and courage to rediscover.
When life throws you lemons and you're tired of drinking tequila, isn't it time for a little reinvention?