Saturday, August 24, 2013

Tool for the Journey #29 - Comfortable in my skin

In our culture, age doesn't represent wisdom
it represents deterioration. That's 
infuriating, really.
- Debra Winger

I turned fifty years old in July and its taken me a some time to pull my thoughts together about this tool for the journey. I'm cognizant that 'I've reached the halfway mark in a hundred year life' and I'm hoping there really are still as many years ahead of me as are now behind me.

As I stood before the cake filled with so many candles and wishes, my impulse was to look back rather than forward. I've traveled a long way and I've got plenty of dust on my boots from my travels and adventures and now it was time to take stock of my journey so far.

My past is present for me like so many shining coins at the bottom of a fountain. There's a lovely patina on these memories from all they've weathered on the adventure with me. It's a funny thing about memories - they get sweeter with time as the rough edges wear down and as we gain perspective and wisdom along the roads we travel.

Some memories are visual - you can see them crystal clear in your mind's eye, others are visceral and some sensual as they stir up our senses and transport us in a flash to some distant point in our past. There's a texture and value to these memory-coins I carry, and I like to pull them out and hold them up to the light once in awhile. They provide comfort just like looking at photos of home when away on a long voyage.

I told a friend recently it seems to me fifty is the time to tell the truth - at least to oneself. Time to look back, assess and be honest so perhaps the road ahead might be less bumpy. It's my hope this looking back will help me to figure out going forward how to keep my eyes open even through the scary bits. I've spent too much time closing my eyes through the scary parts of my life and as a result I've missed some things I wish I hadn't.

My past is standing at my shoulder now urging me to be courageous - to keep my eyes open as I look back and also forward. Clearly something must 'die' in me, or at least I must let something go, in order for over-fifty-me to burn more brightly on the road a head. There is both glorious light and also darkness behind me, and I know there will be more darkness ahead (as well as light) thus, whatever I can do to illuminate the path going forward seems worth doing even if it's a bit scary.

This assiduous analysis I'm undertaking may seem self-indulgent. However, there is treasure here at fifty which I don't want to miss. Some I see clearly, some I can only sense but I know it's here even if I can only see it out of the corner of my eye. I've slowed down so I can discover the 'gold' here and take in the view from this particularly hard-won vista.

When I was younger I had more of a tendency to listen to external voices, but now my own inner voice has center stage (thankfully). I've finally accepted that I'm acoustic not electric - always have been and I like it this way. I used to fight it but finally, blessedly I am comfortable in my own skin and I'm less judgmental of my flaws and faults; more patient with myself and others.

Have I made mistakes along the way? You bet! Do I have regrets? Yes. Have I hurt people I love dearly? Unfortunately. Would I go back and do some things over if I could? Without a doubt and without a moment's hesitation. I'd un-say hurtful words and un-break hearts. I'd worry less about what the world was thinking and climb out on the skinny branches far more. I'd  dare more and sing more and speak my mind more. I'd read more and share more and remember to be grateful more. I'd get outdoors and look at the sky more and worry far less about chores. I'd take more chances and I'd work harder to stay naive and full of hope in spite of the hard blows. I'd remember that every single moment is a creation and I'd create more.

For my 50th birthday I'm gathering up my regrets and my mistakes and letting them go like helium balloons into a bright sky. I don't have room for them on my journey going forward because I plan to travel light and these things have been weighing me down. My first husband and most precious friend, Douglas taught me about the importance of traveling light. He also taught me how to trust myself and ultimately gave me the keys to how to be comfortable in my own skin. I owe Douglas, and many other wise-souls I've met along the way, a debt of gratitude for being willing to be my teachers even when I was a reluctant student. It is through their loving tutelage that I arrived safely to my fiftieth birthday.

As I sit here tonight quietly watching the sun head off for places west somewhere, I'm overwhelmed with gratitude for my journey and the people who I've been blessed enough to share it with. My life is richly textured and has an acoustic melody I know by heart thanks to the people I'm blessed enough to call my friends.

As for the road ahead - I expect big changes and no doubt some steep hills, but I also expect joy - lots and lots of joy.  So, my most sincere birthday wish is no matter how many bends in the road - nor how frightening it might be in the dark times - I may be bold and courageous as I walk forward with my eyes wide open (even through the scary bits!)

Here's to the journey and the next fifty years!

The wound is
the place 
where the light
enters you!