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I am Heinz 57

Another trip around the sun for me. Yes, it was my 57th birthday last week. It gives me reason to pause and reflect. What did happen this past year? Am I further along in my goals? Should I be changing my goals? Am I doing enough? Would I be ok if this were my last year on earth (NOOOO). And then there is the subject of time itself. How fast it is moving, or so it feels the older I get.

When I was in London in September, I had the chance to visit a friend I have had since I was 16 years old. Kristen and I met through Indiana University's Summer Honors Program. We were two of about 30 high school juniors in the state of Indiana who competed for this privilege through extensive testing and in-person interviews conducted in French. We spent the summer in St. Brieuc, Brittany, living with families, attending school, touring sites in Normandy and Paris. She and I and another Karen became fast friends and inseparable the entire six week trip. That means I have known her for 41 years. GULP. She is now a cookbook author, volunteer, bell ringer, PhD, wife, mother... I remember us so clearly at 16 years old as impressionable teenagers on our first real, big adventure. When we were together recently I told her that summer in France was the best summer of my entire life. She said, me too. I became 16 again. Time stood still. Then I told her that I have always had a fascination with WWII, books, movies, spies, stories. I had just toured Schindler's Factory in Poland and was talking about it. She said, of course--don't you remember our visit to Normandy and the beaches and the museum and those families. Gulp. Back to age 16, and I finally discovered the reason behind my fascination. In 41 years of wondering why I keep focused on this, she solved the mystery. Time stood still.

My mother in law, Mavis, recently moved to her assisted living apartment. She is an amazing 92 years old, and she has lived a lot of life. She was born on a farm and lived with an out house and a dirt floor for her first few years. Fast forward to marrying LeRoy and raising four kids and living in the same house for 70+ years before she moved to her apartment. Lou and I asked her about how it's going meeting new people. She said--everyone here is old. Gulp. She said that when she lived in her house in southern Minnesota, the people she knew may have grown old--along with her--but they didn't seem old to her.

In the same way that I keep seeing my friend Kristen as 16 plus life experiences--Mavis is on the other side of this with her assisted living neighbors. This is how our minds work, always looking to make connections and sense of the world to keep us safe.

In the book, The Little Prince, the prince talks about how the knowing is what makes people special. Without the knowing of background, shared history, regular exchanges, most people are strangers.

I never take my life for granted or the people who have come along that I have gotten to know. I have a lot more work to do, that is for sure. However many more trips around the sun I have coming (I hope many many many...) some of my friends will never grow old in my eyes...because in the knowing I see them from long ago--and that knowing keeps them forever young--and hopefully me too. :))

xo Coach Karen :))
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