When someone is entering the last stages of their lives, whether or not there are regrets may arise – adventures not taken, love lost, words unspoken, and missed turns in the road that may have led to different outcomes. Our lives are messy. Only occasionally are we ready for the “Southern Living photo” of our life’s house we construct over the years. Sometimes the decoration we put around our lives covers foundational flaws that threaten the bones of our lives when they are examined closely. How honest we are in admitting those and working to fill in the cracks either leads us to more fulfilling lives or leaves us with holes that just get bigger over time.
We have opportunities along the way to color inside the lines or outside the lines. Learning the discernment of how far we go outside the lines is one of the biggest challenges we tackle in maturing into an adult who designs a life well-lived, moving outside the comfort zone to continue learning, while not creating chaos by going too far.
When a climber appears to hang from the rock wall at the most awkward of angles and from the most jaw-dropping heights, she will be tethered and anchored into the most solid rock foundation to ensure her safety. Much as a parent provides multiple alternatives for a child to pick from, all of which are appropriate, while allowing the child to learn to make selections with differing consequences; we must learn how to color outside of the lines in our lives while keeping necessary safeguards in place.
Exploration, adventure, attempts at untapped talents, new ventures, blossoming relationships, and new careers are all opportunities that can bring the greatest joys into our lives. However, push any of them too far and the rope frays, the consequences are dire, and the journey into the light becomes a descent into darkness. The cult of celebrity offers us a window through which to peer and witness how the genius of creativity can lead us into ever more wonderful human achievement, expressions and breakthroughs or tip one over the edge into lost talent and opportunity forever.
As opportunities come into our lives, it is important to maintain a strong support system around us with whom to consult, who will have our best interests at heart, and who will dream with us. None of us accomplish anything alone. There is great strength in asking for advice, having continuous conversations about our direction, and having a stable of people who can encourage us to pull back and color within the lines when other choices can lead to chaos. We also need them to give us a gentle nudge to color outside the lines when we are choosing not to use our gifts and talents or find reasons not to take risks that could lead to totally new ventures.
Discerning when to color inside and outside the lines is a sign of maturity and wisdom that leads to living a life that is well-designed.
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