I was blessed to have an amazing father. My Dad was a master carpenter and contractor and as far as I was concerned, there was nothing that he could not build. I grew up watching him work on all types of projects varying in size and scope around our house. They were as elaborate as remodeling bathrooms and as simple as replacing doorknobs and everything in between. As I got older, I was able to help on a number of his projects. As much as I would love to think I was his apprentice learning the skills necessary to one day follow in his footsteps, I was really just cheap labor. But the time together with my dad was priceless. Along with discovering the economic benefit I provided, I also discovered that my dad had a lot of unfinished projects. There was always something to be adjusted, improved, and enhanced. But often times a new project would be started before a previous one was completed. Because he was always working on something, I’m not sure he ever “finished.”
It turns out that life is a lot like that, a series of projects. If you’ve owned a home for any length of time, I’m sure you can relate. There is always something that needs to be fixed, improved, enhanced, and or updated. Bulbs and appliances don’t last forever, paint fades with time, carpet wears, and let’s face it; changing trends easily create new projects around the house.
Your life is no different than your house. The longer you stay, the more fixing, adapting, adjusting, and upgrading you do. However, there are some projects we don’t get to finish. Last week in Nobody Asked Me (NAM), we had more candid conversation about aging looking through the lens of unfinished business.
We spent a significant amount of time discussing what we felt about our unfinished projects. Beneath the obvious signs of unfinished work are the feelings of guilt, frustration, shame, apathy, and sadness. These feelings arise for a myriad of reasons. Perhaps the project can’t be completed because of an illness or change in physical health that prevents you from performing certain tasks. Aging has altered your life in such a way that you no longer have the satisfaction of completing various projects in the way you envisioned when you started. Along with the stiffness, dimming eyesight, shortened steps, and occasional brain fog brought on by aging, comes the deluge of emotions crashing against the psyche eroding away the sense of self.
We found ourselves in good company; hearing that we all wrestle with our negative thoughts about ourselves concerning any unfinished business. The type of business or project wasn’t as important as the fact that we didn’t get to complete it on our own terms. Whether we didn’t get to finish the deck, close the business the way we wanted to, or say what we needed to be said before life ended, the work was and continues to be, finding resolution to any grief or remorse we feel over not finishing. Unfinished work does not make us bad or wrong. Even though we may not get to finish the way we envisioned when we started, we can still finish well. Our collective thinking brought us to a way to assuage our negative thoughts and feelings; look for alternative ways to finish. Aging may take from us and dying is inevitable, BUT you are alive. So LIVE! In your living, you get to decide what finished looks like. Instead of focusing on the destination or the completed project, maximize the moments on the journey. Join us Tuesday at 9:30 am in the Chapel for more conversation about living strong and finishing well.