The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.
- Abraham Lincoln
Last October, two months after my 74th birthday and after living single for over twenty years, I listed my condo with a realtor in South Texas and moved to Northern Michigan to live with my partner Ron. At the same time, I won a self-paced journaling course from the CreateWriteNow store, and I chose a most apt title: Ease Life’s Transitions in 22 Days.
However, in the middle of unpacking I discovered a notebook in which I had journaled my way through this course before, when Ron and I first reconnected on the Classmates.com website. In that notebook I had made the same observation about the perfect timing of its appearance. But in the following two years, which saw Hurricane Harvey and my 93-year-old mother’s decline and death—not to mention the development of the long-distance relationship—my memory of having previously responded to these prompts blurred.
Both the first time I accepted Mari’s challenge and again this time, I resisted her suggestions to make plans. On Day 5, I could not convince myself to project any kind of image on what the next year might hold, let alone the next six. Too often, I argued, life had disrupted my plans with its own, leaving me no option but to face each day’s challenges as they came. Besides, how many years might I have left? Three friends my age had died in the past year.
Still, could my refusal to follow instructions be the reason I’d had to repeat the course?
I read through the two notebooks, pencil in hand, jotting down the observations I’d made and advice I had written to myself:
- We have been given the chance to practice what we learned these past 55 years—that love doesn’t have to turn to indifference or hate, but can grow stronger if we remember to keep holding hands
- Accept what is but expect change, living in what Dale Carnegie called day-tight compartments
- Stop wasting energy on worry about the future and save it to do what needs to be done in the present
- Life is a journey, not a destination. Enjoy the colors of the trees along the highway.
And while it may appear that I am traveling without a map, I feel certain that my journaling practice will continue to help me find my way, one page at a time.
Kay Butzin writes for pleasure more than profit and enters flash essay and flash fiction contests to help her stay motivated and productive. Before and After, her essay about Hurricane Harvey, won first prize in the Women On Writing Q4 2018 Creative Nonfiction Contest.
A Texas transplant for 22 years, Kay has relocated to her native Michigan and lives at Houghton Lake.