A new year is approaching. And with it, many changes.
In my twenties, life lessons came fast and often. A lesson would show up, knock me around a bit, and then pass as quickly as it came. I was left slightly bruised, a little out of breath and a bit wiser for the wear.
Then came my thirties. The lessons had a new strategy: deep and lingering. Gone were the lessons from which I could recover quickly. The new lessons hit deep and hard and overstayed their welcome.
I suppose the lessons from my twenties were less complex in nature -- a beach novel, of sorts. You get something out of it, but nothing truly life-altering. My lessons now feel more akin to a 1400-page novel; the kind you pick up with a mix of dread and desire. You know it'll be painful to get through, but you also know it will be worth it in the end.
I went from reading The Bridges of Madison County to reading War and Peace.
I miss the easier lessons. I do. Yet, there is a feeling of pride I get knowing I am making my way through Tolstoy. But the lessons have been hard; certainly harder than I ever imagined. And there are times when I wonder if life might grant me reprieve -- maybe throw me a few less Tolstoys and a few more Nicholas Sparks?
Still, as much as I would love to go back to the easier lessons, doing so would be about as helpful as taking Level I French while getting your Masters in French Literature.
Lately, I feel I'm coming to the end of this particular novel. It took me almost five years to finish. This is the year I turn 35. No doubt, there are many changes on the horizon and the lessons will continue to be hard ... but in a new way.
Life will surprise me. And I will be tested and pushed beyond what I think to be my limits. As Oliver Wendell Holmes once wrote, "Every now and then a man's mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions." That's how I feel about my life; with every lesson, I am permanently altered.
Soon it will be a new year. A new year filled with new lessons, new adventures and new dimensions.