Finding our purpose in life or fulfilling a dream is often a lifelong journey. Sadly, often it dies untapped. But many of us know that itchy place, and we’re this close, if only we could reach out and give it a good scratch. Better hurry.
Do you have a burning itch that needs to be scratched? I’m not talking about the surface rages of seborrhea, psoriasis or a bad case of the cooties. No, something so deep in your core that you just know if you don’t get to scratch the hell out of it you will die unfulfilled. No drama intended, but it’s that serious. Hear that? Tick-tick-tick. Time is running out.
Well something’s under my skin. And it itches. Like crazy. I’ve had the condition most of my life. Knowing there is something I just need to accomplish before my time runs out. Forget a cleaner house or losing twenty pounds (if that’s you, great, but let’s think big here). Really big.
For me, it’s to be a writer.
My urge started at about age twelve. But this “responsible child” accepted the opinions of others that my desire to write ranked up there with the sure plight of other starving artist types. Be a teacher, a secretary – that was the narrowed viewpoint of the authoritative women and men in my life.
Over the years there was the occasional flare up. I’d write an article here or there, start a story, a novel, a screenplay. The wanting, needing, to scratch eventually subsided and it was back to the real world. I used school, college, marriage, children, jobs, career changes, deaths, home moves, family issues, cancer, unemployment, all that, as roadblocks, excuses and reasons for procrastination. And they’re all very valid.
In my early 30s I had the pleasure of working with a woman who joined our company at age 61. She was a positive influence who planted a seed in my life.
As a young girl she was a promising accounting clerk in Boston and loved it. Then she took the respectable route of marriage and raising a family, and for that, she had no regrets. Later she tended to an aging mother and nursed a very ill husband until his death. While her life was already filled with much love and importance, at 58, her goal became to return to the finance work she once loved. It was her itch.
The urge to scratch was greater than the naysayers who told her to ease into retirement. Instead she went back to school and brought her life’s knowledge and wisdom to a job she was born to do.
Her motives for this achievement were more than an unfilled wish for a degree or a career. She simply said: “I don’t want my epitaph to read: She Kept A Clean Toilet Bowl!”
It took me yet another 20 years for her seed to germinate and to finally scratch the itch. I write something every day. I have no idea of where it may lead but it doesn’t seem to matter. Addressing that inner need to scratch is a good first step.
Whatever the latest reason you give to hedge that gnaw in your gut, recognize that you are not alone.
What’s your itch? Hear that? Tick-tick-tick.
Excerpt from the upcoming e-book, The Bear Went Over the Mountain: A Mid-Life Manifesto.