Distance and the demanding workload on a rancher's shoulders are both at play when it comes to communication with my father. Therefore, we only speak every few months and if unusually busy, twice a year on each of our birthdays. It may seem like some sort of sad story, but it's not. Yesterday was my birthday and so he called between fields of winter wheat planting to catch up and laugh about how old we're getting.
The night before, my dearest friend took me out on a pre-birthday date of dinner and drinks and knitting. I'd somehow gotten drawn into a conversation with one of her friends about my wild youth and travels - reminiscing about a time when "transient" was printed under the address heading of my driver's license and home was simply me - with sprawling roots and weekly phone calls to my grandmothers at rest stops along the highway for a sip of family to keep me full. This friend of hers was shocked by my stories, coming from a conventional upbringing with traditional parents who would never allow such shenanigans. My upbringing sounds like a tall tale as I describe my father: bronco riding cowboy, bicycle racer, industry celebrity indycar engineer, pilot, photographer, harley davidson restorer (with bikes in museums!), and now, cattle rancher. This led to a brief summary of my father's rebellion from his wealthy family and how his spirit was imprinted on me.
It was a great story to relay to my father during my birthday call. We spoke about my passion and pursuits in knitting and how I learned to take risks, fail, learn, and push forward from him. In all the ways I'm my mother's daughter, in this way, I am fully my father's. I hope I am marking my children with courage to dream and the resilience to succeed. It took me a long time to set my eyes on a goal I saw so clearly that every choice I made from then on was in service to attaining it. My greatest fear is to be exhaling my final breath thinking, "well, at least I was able to retire at 62." I may be a choosing to have a harder life but it's also a choice to have a fuller life - rich in spirit.
I have enjoyed my 30's which I have come to call "the years I learned I knew nothing" and I've become a friend to myself. Only two years ago I quit my job and put all my weight on my husband with the dream of stitching together a career in knitting for myself with the end goal: writing a book. It seemed impossible and actually, sort of stupid so my husband and I put a five year deadline on the table. I cried a lot and trembled my way through every scary step forward until one day I dried my tears, stood up straight, and looked around to see myself planted squarely in the center of my dreams realized with three years to go. I'd love to say I was so strong, pushing forward with confidence, but that is a total lie. As I told my father, I'm still scared with every new step - terrified even - and yet my foot creeps forward and lands.
The pursuit of passion is a hard road full of risk, more failures than success, and if done properly, real grace. Welcome to 34.