My eyes are no longer working like they used to. My knees will not permit me to do a proper jumping-jack. If I have one too many whiskeys on Friday, Saturday is a recovery day. I can’t remember why I walk into rooms or where I put my phone, even when I am talking on it. My physical body has started the great journey towards the grave. I know that is morbid, but it is as if my body knows it was dust all along and, through some magical love, I was permitted to abide in it for some time.
But my soul? It is as if she just got her wings. They are still wet and we cannot soar just yet, but every inch of my soul knows that this is what I was meant for all along. So as my wings dry and I begin my journey towards everlasting, I have started collecting a few notes and observations about my aging self.
I love myself better. It isn’t some type of conceded or overly confident attitude; it is an understanding that I cannot begin to list all my brokenness and weakness and at the very same time I am completely deserving of love. I not only love myself, but my life has so clearly become something I am comfortable in and excited about. This self-love and self-care have grounded me in a powerful way. It changed how I see the world and how I see my life. If I sit in a pit of despair and I am sad about a hard day or season, I still love me and my life. While I watch young moms wrangle their young children and a twinge of sorrow comes from missing the busy days of motherhood, I still love me and my life. While enemies call me names and gossip about me, I still love me and my life. Suddenly, the things that could derail me don’t. My self-love has given me a confidence and peace I didn’t’ know in my youth.
I have a very short list of people that I care what their opinion is of me. And if a person makes the short list, their opinion may carry weight in my heart, but I will still hold their opinions and questions gently before making them my own. In my youth, the list of people I cared about what they thought of me was long. And in a crazy twist of crazy, some of them were my enemies. What a waste of time. If they have declared their hate and disgust for you, they should no longer have a place in our mind. The freedom of not caring what others think of me has changed the voices in my head. Now I only have my own demons to fight, not the demons of others.
Speaking of enemies, I have them. You have them. We all have them. One of the most freeing things my spiritual director has said to me was, “You cannot pray for and love your enemies until you identify your enemies.” Ahhh, yes. Call a spade a spade. It simply means living with the truth that not everyone likes me and there are some people who will go so far as to try and make my misery their joy. Simply weeding out the enemies has made more room, in my heart and in my days, for the people that know me and love me.
As I have aged I have learned a thing or two about myself and others. One thing you can always count on when it comes to humans is that they will blow it. Like big time, spit in your face, crush your heart blow it. In my aging, I have learned the kindest thing I can do for my heart is feel the pain caused, acknowledge that it wasn’t acceptable, and then forgive the trespass. I have also learned that there is a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. While I will forgive all the people in my life, I do not seek reconciliation with all people. That doesn’t make me unforgiving, it makes me a lover of my own soul. I believe there is a direct correlation between how well you love others is usually how well you love yourself. I had to learn to protect my heart as I protect the heart of others.
As old age gifts me with the wisdom about myself and the people around me, it has also taught me that at the end of the day, I may not really know anything. I have come to see that even if I have given honor to my yesterday with forgiveness and gratitude, and if I mastered today filling it with love and grace, and I have great hope for tomorrow knowing it will only come with sadness and joy… in the end, I really do not know what I am doing at all. The older I get, the less I seem to really know. Mystic and theologian, Meister Eckhart wrote, “Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.” As each morning comes, I realize my dusty body may be a day older, but really I have just begun to learn how to live, love, hope, and be. And eventually, I will learn to soar.
I am writing about aging this month with a few amazing women. Check out Megan’s thoughts on aging, then journey on through the blogroll.