A few weeks ago a friend and I had a friendly argument about who makes the best non-dairy ice cream. I was touting the virtues of the chocolate coconut milk ice cream from Trader Joe’s and she was swearing by a brand called “So Delicious” which I had only known as an almond milk ice cream (which was far less creamy).
The truth is, it has been years since I bought ice cream of any kind. I was making an argument about something I was no longer familiar with and I was sticking to my guns. I had determined that ice cream is no longer a part of my life. It wasn’t until another friend bought me a pint to try that I experienced something new.
While ice cream is certainly not the most consequential of things, the general principle applies to many areas of life. There are experiences, things, accomplishments that we could be having if only we were to revisit those items that we gave up long ago. These days I spend a fair amount of time trying to get a few important things accomplished during the course of my day…those are my vegetables, so to speak. The vegetables are the things that I have to do, they are also things that make life better if I do them. While I may have to prioritize the vegetables, I am embracing the extras…the ice cream. I am revisiting what I’ve wanted that I thought would be difficult, impossible or too far in the future.
Twenty-one years into this first career as a therapist and therapist educator, I am revisiting what’s next. I find myself asking the question akin to “What is my ice cream?” What is the dessert at this stage? What do I want that I am not even exploring or looking for at this point in the span of my career and life? The answers are not found in the realm of therapy. Career-wise they are creative endeavors that have to do with design and space. When I have the opportunity to create spaces for myself and others…it feels as good as that cashew milk ice cream tastes. It feels like the introduction to something I used to enjoy that is in a new form. It seems like a possibility that I didn’t think existed. Because I either didn’t think I had the time to do it, or because it seems like such a far cry from the career I’ve built.
There is nothing missing in my work as a therapist or educator. Just like there isn’t anything missing from a meal when it doesn’t include a treat at the end. The question is what are those things that can make life sweeter? Many people envision a retirement during which they will do all of the things that they always wanted. Maybe they will travel more; take up a hobby; start a business; go back to school; spend more time with family etc…The experiences they really want to engage in will be later, closer to the end.
While it may not be the most nutritious advice, I think that we should all move toward regular experiences of those things we hope we have time to do later. There is no time like the present….eat the ice cream.
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