My forties were all about change.
My fifties were about letting go.
I’m discovering that my 60’s are all about perspective.
When I entered my forties, I had two small children - so while there was a sameness to the days and weeks of that decade, there was also change built right in. They outgrew clothes, books, friends, and rooms. And I accommodated and facilitated all of those changes. My friends were their friend’s parents, I picked out their clothes, and made all their plans. And I had change of my own doing as well - I changed jobs, homes, and husbands.
When I entered my fifties, I was freshly divorced and newly in love. I learned to let go of the life I had imagined and embraced a new one. I gained four more patchwork children. My children became adults and began making adult choices - they traveled, moved, took jobs, quit jobs, chose college or no, became romantic, and then not. I encouraged, propped up, provided assistance, hugged, and then...I let it go. Because you can’t hold onto it. No matter how many pictures, or momentos you collect, you have to let it all go.
Now, in my sixties, I find that I have so much perspective, it’s kind of hilarious. When our children come to us with concerns or issues, I sometimes feel like Crush in Finding Nemo, the totally chill beach-bum-persona, 150 year old sea turtle, because when you’re 150 years old, you have literally seen it all and can have faith that things work out. Decades of experience, relationships, sickness, death, bliss, therapy and the whole catastrophe have worn down my rough edges and extreme opinions.
That sense of perspective is my constant companion. I find myself in conversation and have the feeling of having had this conversation before - except, I was the young woman the last time. I have newfound appreciation for my younger self and the fact that I didn’t even know then, what I didn’t know. I was so unfettered by actual experience and knowledge and so burdened by having to get it all right. Now, what I know for sure is that version of myself did the best she could - as she always has done.
Oddly, this perspective has given me a new sense of wonder. You’ve already heard me talk here about the infant wisdom of my grandson - and I sincerely find him to be an ideal guru. As I watch him incarnating more fully each week, I marvel at my own incarnation process. While I move closer to my own transition and that great mystery, I also appreciate my own continued progress towards illumination. I find that I can delight in really being here. The taste of really good french fries or the clean smell of moss in the woods make me more fully present than when I was doing laundry at five in the morning. Watching my grandson find his hands and knees is no less awesome than observing a butterfly emerge from the chrysalis. All my perspective now allows me to be more absolutely, if only momentarily, present.
I remember taking a carful of middle school girls to get creemees one day after school. They ran out with their ice cream cones onto the porch laughing and shouting careening right by several elder women sitting in the porch chairs taking in the warm autumn sun. The girls ran past them as if the women were just part of the furniture. I winced at their lack of respect or even acknowledgment. But the women were nonplussed and just smiled knowing smiles. I couldn’t interpret their smiles then as I believe I can now. They were just delighting at life, happening right in front of them. No judgement.
I’m getting there. With perspective as my guide.