I believe there is a topless picture of me, hanging in a small whitewashed taverna, on an even smaller island in Greece.
Behind the sticky bottles of ouzo, in a bar once owned by a Greek man named Rolando, the photo captures my friend and I sitting on a white rocky beach watching our hosts spear fish in the Aegean Sea.
The year is 1984, and Monica and I are 18 and have just graduated from high school. I’ve rolled thousands of burritos and have taken hundreds of Polaroid passport pictures to get there. Our hair is big and permed, our travel clothes are t-shirts cut at the neck, and I’ve bleached my 501’s to the point that they are disintegrating.
I’m strangely proud that my young breasts could be out in the world for public consumption. And if I ever run for political office, which is highly doubtful, I’d love for the photo to surface, as I’ve never seen it. And I wouldn’t apologize.
We weren’t taken advantage of. We were celebrating. Being young and healthy. Being free with a world of possibilities in front of us. Being topless on a beautiful beach, just because we could.
The funny thing is, I had forgotten about a camera being present, until this past summer when Monica came and visited me in Reno — yup, over 25 years later. And sure enough, we found ourselves sitting at the edge of the Truckee River, our toes getting prunish in the water, wearing modest “tankinis,” absolutely howling about it. (And I’m pretty sure, if a photographer came by this time, our photo wouldn’t be posted on a bar mirror, let alone on the web).
Our adventures that summer — I couldn’t have made them up. And really, don’t those moments of joy keep us charged through the darkest of times? Those are the memories that keep us from totally cracking when life throws us curve balls. They are for the times when we’re gathered around a hospital bed, laughing instead of crying, recalling some dumb-ass thing we had done together.
But you can’t totally rely on those long-ago moments, right? They won’t sustain us. You’ve got to constantly work on feeding the “joy” pipeline.
When’s the last time you shouted, “DAMN, THAT WAS FUN!” and it electrified you for days? When was the last time you stayed up past your 10 pm bedtime and danced without inhibition (despite your grace level) until the bar closed? When was the last time you drove go-karts and bumped the 14 year old, with his underwear showing, out of the way? When was the last time you had the nerve to play the lonely piano in the hotel lobby? When was the last time you even thought about one of those “joy” moments, and a co-worker commented, “Hey, why do you have that goofy grin on your face?”
This summer was a tough one — almost all plans to charge ourselves for a long, cold winter came to a halt. It surely reminded me, the queen of “stop and smell the roses,” that we can plan all we want. We can wait until we are “in the mood,” less tired, in better shape, finished with the project, retired or for a more convenient time. We can wait until a better deal comes along, we have more money or we look better in a bathing suit. But eventually, we realize that sometimes tomorrow is out of our control.
Here’s to making every moment count.
Originally published by Raving Consulting