“I think midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear: I’m not screwing around. It’s time. All of this pretending and performing… has to go… Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.” ~ Brené Brown
You first met my friend Opal in May of 2012. I learned a lot about Opal that year. She was only 102 then. She’d been everywhere, done everything, and she was still fully engaged intellectually. She was fascinated by Instagram and digital photography. In April of this year I saw Opal again. At 106 she finally required a little help getting around, but her light was as bright as ever. Great-granddaughter Liz Murphy gave me the news this week that Opal is in renal failure. And though her days are definitely numbered by it, she’s still going to Bingo everyday and staying cheery. That’s our Opal. I was digging through the archives to find some pictures for the family when I came across this shot that I didn’t process from 2012. I’m still amazed by Opal, inspired by her. While looking for her pictures I came across photos of Ryan Bick that I’d overlooked last year when, at his passing, the family asked if I had any pictures of Ryan they hadn’t seen. I pulled this one from the small pile, and cleaned it up. It’s one of the few pictures of Ryan I’ve seen where he isn’t smiling his huge Ryan smile, but he’s softer here; more natural. While Opal’s life has been extraordinarily long, Ryan’s was cut tragically short. And yet their impact on the world and those who love them are in no way greater or lesser than the other. We’re here for only a short time whether that’s 29 years or 106. In the grand scheme of the universe our time is short. One thing that Ryan and Opal have in common is their love for life and making the most of their time. Let them inspire you the way they have inspired me. Don’t wait until middle age to do what you’ve always wanted, love whom you want to love, go where you’ve wanted to go. Do it now.