I got my first tattoo in 2002, I think. I had been telling Steph that I was going to do it for months. One morning I woke up and decided, "Today's the day." After I dropped Hannah off at daycare, I headed to class at Murray State, and during a break between classes, jumped in the truck, drove to Paducah, got inked, then went back to class. When I got home, two little girls had been promised a tree house in the back yard built by their daddy, and that's what I was working when all of my girls pulled into the driveway.
Steph walked around to where I was, and I said, "Let me show you something." Then I reached around, pulled my shirt up in the back, and she got her first look at the cross and crown of thorns on my shoulderblade. Her initial response was a gasp, I think, quickly followed by, "I can't believe you actually did it!" I responded, very calmly, with, "I have been telling you for months that I was going to get a tattoo." To which she replied, maybe not quite as calmly, "Yeah, but I just figured that was another Jamie thing. You know, something you would talk about forever and never do."
Ouch. I have never forgotten that. And she was right, I had talked about doing alot of things I never actually did. That was then. This is now.
A couple weeks ago, my last blog was about my next 40 years. I turned 40 on the 15th of this month, and honestly, so far it has been absolutely great! I never expected 40 to be so much fun. So to all of those folks who made the "over the hill" cracks and said things like, "Life is pretty much over at 40, old man," I say, "Ppppffffffftttttt!!!!!" ...and so it begins. You can call it a mid life crisis, a bucket list, a touch of insanity...whatever you want, but it's time to get started.
One of the things on my list for the next 40 years is hiking the North/South trail in the Land Between the Lakes. I've mentioned it a couple times on Facebook, and today I bought my backpack. It's a Mantis basic external frame pack. Yeah, I know, all the cool kids are buying the internal frame packs, but after looking at more backpacks than I care to admit, I decided this was the one for me. It is sturdy, has several storage compartments, lots of room, and was within budget. Now I'm committed. I've invested in the pack, so I have to make the hike...and I can't wait.
I'm hoping to get some friends to go with me because I think that would just be a hoot. I'm working on conditioning and dropping the extra 20 or 30 pounds I've been carrying for a few too many years (My knees and ankles will appreciate that by day 2, I'm pretty sure.). I'm starting to put together my gear list and studying maps to break the trip down into manageable days, and for the first time in several years, I'm excited. I had quit hunting and fishing a few years ago, and had pretty much quit hiking recently after catching a little flack at church over trail time, but for the first time in a while, I'm really looking forward to doing something.
So, here is what all of this has done to me, for me, however you want to say it: I have realized that we were not meant to just float through life. I have realized the importance of setting some goals and working on meeting them. I have realized that it's ok to do something you want to do just because you want to do it, and if you need to sacrifice something else, that's cool, so long as it's not your family. I have realized that life was meant to be enjoyed. I mean, yeah, life sucks sometimes, and sometimes it's just plain hard as hell to get through one more day, but dog gone it, I don't think we were created to be miserable.
Get out, laugh a little, do something totally stupid just because you can. Don't get arrested or anything, I mean, use a little sense. But if there is something you have been wanting to do, what are you waiting for? Stop talking about it and do it.