Just a couple weeks ago, my grandmother celebrated her 90th birthday. We were lucky enough to be able to celebrate with her this year: she lives in Grants Pass, OR close to my aunt, and we were in the Portland area, so my aunt drove her up to Eugene and we drove down from Portland, meeting half-way for a birthday luncheon. My parents, brother, and his girlfriend even flew out for the special occasion from the east coast so the whole family was there, and we all had a lovely time together.
Turning 90 is a pretty big deal. By this age, you are definitely having “rocking chair moments”. My mom uses this term sometimes when she talks about getting older - just picture an elderly person sitting in their rocking chair on their front porch (a very Southern image, I know), thinking back on their life – their triumphs and successes and their heartaches and regrets. It is the time in one’s life where you spend a good part of your day sitting and thinking instead of running around and doing.
And so in our family, we use the term “rocking chair moment” to mean this: at a good old age, when you’re sittin’ in your rocking chair on your front porch, perhaps reflecting on your life, what are you going to be proud of? What are you going to regret? It’s a way of thinking into the future enough in order to weigh and measure what you are doing now. Is this really important? Does this really matter?
So, seeing my grandma hit this milestone birthday made me start thinking about my own rocking chair moments, especially as we continue to reflect on our time in Costa Rica this past year. We’ve been back in the States a little over a month now (Joe is in Costa Rica now actually, tying up a few last things) and so we’ve had some time to let things sink in a little and reflect on the question: what really matters?
I’ve come up with a few things so far (nothing new or earth shattering, of course, but just my own personal thought process on what really matters in life). I’ll start with this one, and share others in future posts:
1. Taking bold (healthy) risks are worth it.
We made the decision to move to Costa Rica thinking we would be there for at least three years. It turned out to be only 14 months. It was a lot of work, energy, and emotional stress to move there and move back so soon. But do we regret it? Not one bit. Joe always is saying when making a decision, “What’s the worst-case scenario?” And if the worst case isn’t that bad, then it’s worth the risk. Now of course, a truly “worst-case scenario” didn’t happen to us when in Costa Rica (there are people across the globe who risk their lives to serve others in the name of Christ), but how everything ‘went down’ was not expected, not fun, not easy – it was pretty much the opposite of what we envisioned our work might be. So in a general sense, it was a worst-case scenario. We sold our cars, rented our house, quit our jobs, and moved to another country to try and help an organization, and just 14 months later, we’re back. But despite the hassle and heartbreak, instead of being fearful of ever making a bold move again (literally or figuratively), we both feel empowered by our experience. After all, the worst happened, and we are only stronger for it.
So when/if I’m 90, having a rocking chair moment, I certainly will look back on our time in CR with pride, not regret.
The risk was worth it.