I am having difficulty lately. Or maybe I’m more capable than ever as an ever maturing adult but as a result I am somehow also just feeling more. I definitely have a sense of many layers of feelings, too much to process, much of it lately having to do with realizing that things seem to changing too fast for me. It’s kind of mind boggling how much can change in 10 years – at least for me. Or another way to put it, it’s kind of amazing that 10 years is no longer that long.
I look for reference points of what I see with my eyes and hear with my ears. My mother has been gone for over 10 years. My grandfather died in his 50’s. Then one of my uncles and my Mom had severe strokes in their 50’s. My mother ultimately died around the age of 60. I’m turning 48 years of age this year. The 50’s are getting really close.
And so this is a bit of a specter looming over me. I believe I’m in better shape than my grandfather was, but if I wasn’t then genetics would suggest something like a fatal heart attack within 5 years was in the cards for me. I thought about the fact that retirement age is typically 65 years of age and the possibility that I might not live to see retirement – and I start to feel sad.
I witness faces of entertainers and personalities in television, the movies and news. They have either passed away or aged a lot over the past 10 years. These are the faces that were the “wall paper” in my little shell that defined what my world was like. I witness faces in my workplace that have moved to other jobs, have teen aged kids, and are noticeably aged. Oddly, when I look in the mirror I still feel like I am the same as I was some 20 years ago. But, a glance back to photos of me some 20 years ago shows that it is not the case – that I too have aged.
I witness how my little dog, who I’ve always viewed as a cute little puppy, is now a 13 year old “puppy”. In dog years she’s supposedly 91 years old. In 5 years she’s not likely to be alive. I’m awakening to the fact that a perception of my life and world that I had gotten comfortable with is steadily dying away and being replaced by fresh and younger “kids” that seem to act out the spots I used to be in. I look at what those that are younger than me are doing and for a moment I could see myself doing those same things I did many years ago – but realize that if I ever did that it would feel sort of fake and empty as all familiar faces that interacted with me in the past have all moved on to the next stage of reality.
The only thing I can hold on to, indeed it’s the one thing I hold even tighter to is this feeling of internal love. As time progresses I will as the Invictus poem describes: “be the master of my fate and captain of my soul” and I’d add furthermore that only I can be my master and captain, no one else can, no matter how much I might want them to be. My parents will no longer be alive physically to provide that “home” I could run back to when things go wrong. My peers will no longer provide that reference of who I think I should be or look like. And many acquaintances, dear friends and loved ones won’t be able to fill my daily quota for love. Because in the end the external love I thought I was kind of getting from others in the form of approval was really just me not believing that my love towards myself was worth as much. But in the end I’m starting to feel and recognize the love of myself and see that self-love starting to be reflected back in my relationships and spirit.
Aside from my general and possibly increasing discomfort with life, the one thing that is definitely true is that I feel much more appreciative and grateful of the present. I’m more likely to want to let go of things I may have once demanded and accept things for how they are. I’m more likely to savor and drink in every last second of the miracle of the sunlight. I’m much more able to not want to be “special” or “better”. I’m more willing to exist in an aging body and just be “ordinary”
Whereas I might have compared myself to others and thought … “Oh boy that person really doesn’t get it” or “I feel better than that person or “Wow, do they have major issues to work on!” Now I am more often able to be in a place to just recognize that we are each on our own unique journey and there is no comparison and there is no “more mature”, “more enlightened”, “better”, or “smarter.” There is just me and my journey and lots of other beautiful people on their journey who are probably in fact just another part of my personality interacting back with me. And so to build upon the Invictus poem, not only am I my master and captain, but I’m also but a humble passenger in this grand experience called life.