Taking the 15-Year Test

Lake Chelan
Fifteen years is a long time. Count back that many years and consider all that’s happened. Even though our memories differ, one thing we all share: there’s no going back. Except in our minds.

And that’s what I did this past weekend. I visited Lake Chelan, where I lived 15 years ago. I spent a couple days recalling who I once was. It was time to take my 15 Year Test. Imagine how many choices I’ve made in that time. The 15 Year Test has some pointed questions about those choices.


So, how many answers did I have right? How many wrong ones? How many questions did I have to leave blank, because I hadn’t been able to find time to do those things?

I left Lake Chelan in my mid-30’s. Since then I’ve had thousands of days worth of opportunities.  What did I do with all that time? My test score spotlights many activities. Raised kids. Spent hours reading. Worked from home. Volunteered at times. Some of my hours bear fruit today, but I see some holes where time escaped, spilled, and cannot be retrieved.

The test asked about things left behind. I’ve always loved music. From my earliest years the piano could captivate me for hours. While in Chelan I played nearly everyday.  Music isn’t a huge talent of mine, but for the past 15 years I’ve seldom touched those keys. Instead my fingers are on a computer keyboard that strikes far different notes. What have I missed? Sad to say, I’ll never know.

As I walked the streets of Chelan I recognized folks from 15 years ago. None of them recognized me. Fifteen years will do that. Life had gone on in Chelan without me. My footprint was not very deep in its soil. Another test question: how will people remember you 15 years from now?

The 15 Year Test had some questions about death. I started counting. I lost both parents in that time, as well as the paralyzing anguish of some unexpected deaths. Each one had me in a raw, painful sorrow. Coming through the grief, I found that I can now look someone in the eyes and even if I don’t always know what to say, they know I care about their pain. Other times the pain can be from broken dreams. Part of life is rebuilding. Test Question: Can you use your bad stuff for good?

The final question might be the hardest: If you are given 15 more years to live, how will you use your time so that you can offer something of lasting value to others?

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