So, I’ve been contemplating entering another decade on this earth and what that means. As time goes on it’s inevitable that one starts to think about mortality and looking at that hour glass and trying to visualize how much sand remains. Even though we are vibrant and live longer than we ever used to, at what point does the quality of living start to decline?
I hear people beyond my age complain about aches and pains and immobility which prevent them from doing the things that they used to do. I see people who are haunted by regret for either not completing things that they wanted, or living up to expectations that they placed on themselves.
Also too there’s a class of folks who, looking at that hour glass with more sand in the bottom, than the top – have regrets for spending so much time and energy focused on what others thought of them or living in fear of judgment of others.
Much of my life, through necessity, and through conscious choice has been spent in service to others. It’s brought me tremendous joy. I’m far from a saint, and I’ve had my share of selfish fits – fits that would certainly would rival anyone’s I know – but dedicating myself to opportunities and commitments in my life has kept me positive, has reenergized my spirit, has affirmed my humanity and has many times kept me sane.
As I move into a new decade, with my eye peering that hour glass I wonder though, if it might be time to find a new kind of balance. What do “I” want out of life? Where will I go with my physical, emotional and spiritual health that remains?
The battle cry that is heard universally, once one reaches adulthood anyway, is that there isn’t enough time. Each day I can hear myself saying this as I run through the list of accomplishments for the last 24 hours, which inevitably leads to the list of matters that I didn’t attend to (usually a substantially longer list – because, well – there isn’t enough time). So, what would my life look like if I treated time like the precious commodity it is? What would I step up? What would I cut out? What would be rearranged in my list of life’s priorities?
Certainly Rob and my family remain at the top; those are not likely to move. But looking at other matters my commitments to service, friends, social functions, etc. What must stay, what can go?
Moving forward, I’m still not sure – but, there is a sense that some things could change. One at the top of the list is letting go of what others think. This is a character defect that has vastly improved over the last 20 years. But, there’s room for improvement still. At a recent spiritual panel discussion I attended I was heartened to hear some specific things in that forum. It was a panel made up of people over 60, some over 70 and there were about 5 or so on the panel. Men and women who had been friends for years, some for decades. I so appreciated their perspective.
One of the things they universally agreed upon when asked what was their favorite age. All of them said that their decade in their 50’s were there best years. Their physical vitality remained and they had established themselves already in their careers and relationships. They had a vision that began to shift about what life might look like in retirement (or what they wanted it to look like) and accordingly became invigorated by laying out plans for that. They began to care less about things like clothing labels, material accomplishment, appearances such as going grey in their hair, or gaining a new wrinkle in their skin. They saw life with a new clarity that can come only from spending a half of a century on earth. And, the new vision incorporated how to make use of that life-experience without being condescending. How to balance humility and God’s gifts with lessons that one can now help teach as well as continue to learn. They discovered in that period of their life, that they were happier than they’d ever been. Because there is a freedom which comes from letting go of such trivial matters of social standing, material acquisition, and seeking approval of others. I was energized by attending that workshop.
My own vision is in flux.
I don’t have a clear vision of what I’m heading towards. But, then again, when it comes to matters of God’s will, I rarely do. I more often get a vision of what it’s ‘not’. The things that used to be acceptable become less so, Behaviors which I had once approached with a cavalier attitude, take on new significance. So, if you notice a change in me – don’t be surprised. Nor alarmed.
It’s me – molting.
It starts this morning with a new head of hair. That sounds trivial doesn’t it? I don’t care if you think that. Ha.
I sat in the chair of my favorite hair salon last evening and I said we’re doing something different. “How different” Stacey asks. She can hardly contain her excitement in matters of hair-experimentation. Very different. “Let’s go blond”.
Why? Because I’ve always wondered how’d it be and why not today. Of the times it’s crossed my mind the immediate second thought was a dismissal. I branded it as a ridiculous notion. And, what would people say? They’d likely laugh. Maybe pay me a tongue in cheek compliment, or maybe shake their heads. Maybe they wouldn’t notice at all. Each of those reactions carries a consequence for the person consumed about what other people think. But, because I’m entering a decade of change, I’m going to let that go.
The hair is just a silly symbol. It’s an act for me, for myself to announce to the world, that I’m doing this for me. It’s just a small inconsequential thing that represents the larger steps I may take for myself. It may last only a week, it will likely be back to being dark in a month, but I’m doing it to mark this moment in my life. So, when I see a picture of myself, years from now I’ll recall how I felt at this moment in my life. How much possibility and hope lay ahead for me. Will I go to school? Will I embark on a career change? Will I learn to play a musical instrument? Will I write a book?
It all remains a question mark, but the possibility is there.
If God’s will for me is to be happy, joyous and free, I am that today. I enter the decade where all things are possible as long as I trust in the infinite and have faith that I’ll be OK if I cease relying on the finite.
Right now however, in this moment, I will smirk as I barrel down the Mopac in Austin Texas, top down on the truck, with my ridiculous golden fake locks of inconsequential symbol waving in the wind. How does it look? Wait. That’s right. In this instance, your opinion is not necessary. Thanks for having or not having one though.