Whenever I think about holding on to any tenet, I think about Ben Franklin's confession to the crafters of our Constitution about how many of his opinions he once held dear that had changed over his long life. His current positions, he realized, could change as well. Franklin's reasoning allowed the passionate patriots to come to a point where they could sign what they realized was the best document they could fashion at the time. Amendments could be made as changing times and circumstances evolved.
I think Franklin's wisdom applies to our lives.
There are some things that should remain constant. A commitment to living by the Golden Rule, for instance. But even with that great foundation in place, there are circumstances where most of us can imagine even killing another person.
At every stage in our lives, we can evaluate where we are, where we want to go, why we want to go and how to get there. It is often hard to make fundamental changes, but if we do not make changes when the time is right, they are sometimes made for us.
My first big decision was made for me by parents who did not have the advantage of a college education. Their two daughters would go to college. I did not grow up knowing there was a choice. It was a given despite the very real fact our parents couldn't afford it. I still can't figure out how they managed to send me to George Washington University. But it was a life changer. I wish I could thank them again.
I've had three lives so far. Birth to college was one.
My first marriage and two children a second. My business
life began during my second life and continues to enrich my
third life, along with a good marriage, adding grown
children and grandchildren to love. I know
a fourth life will need decisions.
Getting married seemed a permanent decision at 21 and for 30 years afterward, despite the fact that it became increasingly obvious that divorce needed to be an option.
"In sickness and in health" were words I believed and certainly lived. Going back on that vow was the most difficult decision and the most crucial of my life.
Having children changes a life forever and I know few people who are sorry to have had them. And no one is sorry to have grandchildren.
I've had three lives so far. Birth to college was one. My first marriage and two children a second. My business life began during my second life and continues to enrich my third life, along with a good marriage, adding grown children and grandchildren to love. I know a fourth life will need decisions.
Nancy Alberts is the guru of life transitions who started Moving On! Services to help other baby boomers help aging parents after she experienced the lack of available help when she needed it for her own mother a decade ago. Nancy's advice to me in recent years is, "Make decisions while you can make them."
As we mature it is great advice to recognize that not only might we become less able to make major decisions but we might make them too late. For instance, deciding to keep or sell a large home for two over 60 needs to take into consideration physical abilities, financial status and lifestyle in a different light than when buying a first home.
If we are on the right path, we will make decisions carefully, as we can, when we can. It is true at every age, although when young we have more options than later in life and may not feel an urgency to choose wisely. We are fortunate when we have options, can realistically chart our happiest course and enjoy every precious moment.
Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 39 years.
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