To my feeble historical knowledge, there were several Egyptian kingdoms. Although dissimilar in every way, I see my life divided into these kingdoms: Lower Kingdom, Middle Kingdom, and Upper Kingdom. The Lower Kingdom years were my elementary, high school, and college years. Middle Kingdom was marriage, children, career and un-marriage. Now, I have entered into what I refer to as my Upper Kingdom years (near retirement): wind down my career, find fascinating interests, write a best seller, buy a new dog collar for Sadie, and dust my dresser.
Gazing back on my Lower and Middle Kingdom years, I realize, try as I may, I didn't save the world, or the Rain Forest. Nor did I ever get world peace for Christmas. Furthermore, I wasn't able to raise much money for the Native Americans on the 24 mile walk I participated in while in college. And the Viet Nam War didn't come to a grinding halt because I marched against it. (note to guy who broke up with me eons ago because you thought I was pro-war, take note.)
Now, during my Upper Kingdom years, my dreams are simple--less complicated. A good night's sleep is always welcome. A new book is the best gift ever. Being published is an incredible high, and I also have plans. Big plans. I imagine a lovely new chenille couch front and center in my living room. One with a lounger on one side. Raspberry in color would be so nice--or, a dove gray, even better.
Reality check. I already have a couch. A black one. It pretends to be leather. Stitched in white, its okay. Utilitarian for holding 3 dogs, 1 adult son, and 2 small grandsons that like to sleep there when they visit, and occasionally lose bladder control during the night, due to too much apple juice after 7 pm.
Next to the black couch is a lovely antique settee from the days of splendor. Short legs, which makes standing, after sitting, an event. But the curved lines on the wood and the small original print of the fabric is still so pretty to look at while sitting on the black couch.
My laminate is a pretender too.It wants to be wood. I just found out the flooring comes from China and used formaldehyde as a preservative. The laminate was ruined by a slow dishwasher leak, and also by a slip and slide contest held by my little grandsons while I was on the phone. Living in the Upper Kingdom, one sometimes finds, mistakes are good. Had it not been for the water, I never would be able to get wood floors.
Water damage. Poisonous gases. dishwasher leak. Broken disposal. Slip and slide. A lump of a black couch smack in the middle of my living room ruining my design. An ill adult son who needs attention and medical care. I realized I was allowing myself to be eaten away by the small and big stuff in life.
Calamity and stress stole the moments of living in the Upper Kingdom. The act of focusing on imperfection pulled me from inner peace. Had living through turbulent Lower and Middle Kingdom years taught me nothing about overcoming,?
My life is comprised of what I hold in my heart, not in my hand. I have found freedom in letting go of stuff. I enjoy making do with what I have (cheaper too).
I don't dream of visiting Paris, nor living on a peninsula away from people. I dream and pray for my son to continue his walk toward wellness, for my daughter to slow her crazy work schedule, and for my grandsons to visit me soon.
But, I still want to slay dragons. I want Upper Kingdom living to be smart living. Tackle what matters. Do what I can to make a difference. Help the poor. Feed the hungry. Dry tears. Inspire someone. Encourage. Make someone laugh.
What does living in the Upper Life mean? I remember my mom telling me, she wanted to put what she valued the most in life into her car and drive away from the rest. (Granted she had a much larger car than I have).
What matters to you?