I grew up deep in the heart of Texas, in a family with an entrenched church-going tradition—not a meandering Methodist among us until I came along. There at the buckle of the Bible Belt, the implied promise of strolling through the golden gates into luxurious, everlasting life was not a particularly fertile ground for a questioner. But, I had a question. It began as an itch that became an idea that kept creeping into the realm of consciousness: If one fell short in this life, wouldn’t it be nice to get a second chance?
Mine was not a background sympathetic to reincarnation, but recycling was the only thing that made sense to me.
So, after more than three quarters of a century muddling through a mundane, predictable life, it dawned on me that if recycling was in my future, I probably should plan ahead instead of continuing my willy-nilly romp through the present. It was high time for me to start planning for my future FUTURE. (Yes, that is the all caps FUTURE!)
I began my quest by identifying those qualities that inspire admiration and that I find most appealing in others. It seemed important to document this analytical exercise to help me build a plan of action and set a goal.
I admire and am fascinated by the transcenders. These people flourish anywhere and are undeterred by hostile conditions or the hostile actions of others. They show up in new and unlikely places and become successfully established not because they have connections or pedigree, but because they are strong and adaptable.
I value, maybe even envy, the freedom-seekers who are not confined by externally imposed boundaries. These are the ones who ignore oppressive expectations. They assume the freedom to drift, freedom to try new avenues, freedom to choose new fields of endeavor and growth.
I honor the generous heart of the modest benefactor who does not boast or seek reward. How kind it is for them to leave bright gifts along the road of life, bringing cheer to sad hearts and marking the way with traces of beauty.
I hold those who share knowledge in the highest esteem. They are the silent teachers whose greatest trait is patience with the student, whether quick or dull. If the first attempt at mastery fails, they return again and again and yet again to give the learner of life another chance to get it right.
I respect the perseverance of those who “keep on, keeping on,” and are unafraid to start anew. Adversity does not squelch their drive, and if uprooted or displaced, they are rejuvenated by the challenge.
The concept of recycling leads me to believe that I am destined to be a special entity in another time and in another place. Recycling—or reincarnation, if you prefer—holds the promise of a second chance. In that future FUTURE I will be ready for that second chance; a chance to be everything I want to be.
I reviewed my list of traits and qualities and realized that, if my wish is to be fulfilled, the entity that embodies all of these qualities is obvious.
In my future FUTURE, I want to be a weed.
Carolyn Wiley lives in Longbranch.