Until a few years ago, I had led a very fine life—emphasis on fine. My response to any question was "fine." In our early years together, my "fineness"drove my husband crazy. He was constantly asking me how everything could be fine all of the time. He also couldn't understand why I had no opinion about anything—any and every option was OK.
The reason my life was so fine was not because I had some kind of karmic protection. Rather, I was so terrified of bad things happening that I never took any risk that could change my status quo. I didn't go to Northwestern University for my undergraduate degree because I was afraid I couldn't afford it and couldn't handle the competition. (I wisely chose differently for grad school and it was one of the most difficult and rewarding experiences of my life). I didn't consider spending a semester in London because I was afraid my boyfriend would miss me and I'd get homesick. (We broke up anyway).
The choices I made, or rather didn't make, were fine, and I never really regretted any of them. Yet, I never experienced anything more than fine either. Where was the wonderful, the glorious or the amazing?
When my daughter was about a year old, I looked at her and said, "I don't want this amazing creature to live a life that is merely fine." It was then that I realized that if I wanted my child to aspire to a life beyond fine, I would have to show her by example how to do it.
Instead of suppressing bouts of happiness for fear they would tempt the universe, I had to learn to fall in love with joy (still working on it). Instead of running from anything that could possibly fail, I had to go after my dreams. Of course, first I actually had to figure out what the hell my dreams were. You tend not to dream when every option presented sounds OK.
So I started dreaming. I took the smallest of steps to test the water. And, I didn't drown. I took more steps. My world didn't come crashing down.
Then a year ago, I finally allowed myself to say, "This is a good life, but it's not the one we want. It's time to change it."
Today marks one month out from a massive change in location and lifestyle. I'm contemplating carrying around paper bags at all times in case I start hyperventilating.
I'm leaning on friends and family to keep me from a meltdown of nuclear proportions. So today I met a friend for lunch. We hadn't seen each other in months and she had no idea I was moving. After I condensed the story of the last six to nine months down to about 15 minutes, she said, "Wow. I had no idea. This is huge. How are you?"
My former autoresponse of "fine" didn't even dance on the tip of my tongue. My first instinct was instead to laugh (maybe that meltdown is really getting close) because I am a bubbling pool of indescribable emotions that changes from day to day, moment to moment. I am terrified, excited, anxious, sad and hopeful.
I hope I am never fine again.