“… and how she would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and loving heart of a child; and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland of long ago; and how she would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days.”
~ Alice in Wonderland ~
The summer days are gone; at least for now in New England; but the happy does not have to be gone, regardless of where we are.
I had a birthday last month, a very Happy Birthday thanks to the people in my life, who stopped to make it special; I am most grateful and I thank you.
I am not planning to write about each act of kindness, which made last month so special; but I am also not saying that before this column is over, I will not do exactly that. However, what I would like to share with you this month, are a few thoughts about being a grown up.
As I have written and spoken about in the past, it was Phil who first shared with me the reality of looking in the mirror and seeing this old person looking back at you, when you still feel like you are fifteen, though you are now say fifty-eight or eighty-eighty. It is a shocking phenomenon; and one which reminds you of the ticking clock.
My Father did not make it to fifty-eight, so he could not have told me about what I call Phil’s Phenomenon, and my Mother, I think started and ended her life bearing too many burdens to ever have felt the freedom and joy of fifteen; thus she too never told me about Phil’s Phenomenon. But Phil did explain to me that it was his body which finally betrayed him, that and the library becoming fully computerized; but that is a story for another column.
I have no scientific proof for anything I am about to say, thus anecdotal evidence will have to suffice.
Over the last few months, I have finally come to the conclusion that I am officially “grown up”. I actually have become what I am going to be; you know the phrase, when I grow up . . . well I grew up and this is my life. I do not know why it took me so long to realize that this is what my grown up life looked like, but it did.
One of the things which I have thought about is that no matter how old you actually are, I believe if we are doing this life thing right, we must continue to dream and wonder and hope and plan; and yes we also will continue to be broken-hearted and disappointed and overwhelmed and saddened. Unfortunately, getting older does not make us feel the pains of life less; regardless of our age, we still want to be loved and comforted and know that we matter to other living beings.
But there is nothing we can do about the fact that life comes with so many bumps and bruises; however, there is a lot we can do about living life in joy, despite sorrows. I believe we must choose to live!
Regardless of the circumstances, which we cannot control, we must choose to be engaged, and even when we are continually knocked down, get up and start again. Do not throw in the towel; eventually the towel does get thrown in, and there will be nothing we can do about that, but we should not quit before that moment. The disappointments come, but if we do not stay in the race, we will not be around to savor the victories and Happy Birthdays.
Being a grown up is hard; and it does not get easier with practice. The freedom we gain as adults comes with a very high price tag; and it and all of the other bills must be paid.
As a child we all sit around and talk about how things will be, in our lives, when we are finally the ones in control. Then one day we wake-up and realize we are actually in charge of our life, free to do whatever we like, as long as we keep our boss happy, take care of our home and car, meet the needs of our family and friends, and do what our bodies demand to keep working. It is a juggling act, and of course most of us skipped that juggling class in school; who knew we needed it?
The only thing which can make being a grown up easier is having people to share the journey. Yes, you will want to have someone to commiserate with when you are sorrowful; but you must also have many someone’s to celebrate with, even the small, tiniest of pleasures. If the people in your life do not grieve with you when you grieve or rejoice with you when you are happy, you need better people!
We should not live our lives forgoing the people and things which give us pleasure and purpose. The other day, Kate asked me if the plants, which sit on the windowsill in the kitchen, succulents acquired this summer during our trip to the west coast, made me happy.
I was rather excited by her question, because I had just been thinking about the cost, in terms of effort, which my garden demands; and very pleased to be able to tell her yes! I love seeing the plants grow and change; it makes me happy to watch these tiny living things thrive; just like it makes me happy to see the people in my life grow and thrive!
In many ways the things which I enjoyed in my youth, I still love: People, adventures, food, gardening, reading, music, art, talking, history, God, the road, learning, celebrating, home, and writing; oh my how blessed am I and grateful to Kate for giving me That Is All For Now, where I get to share my loves with you.
Am I happy with what I have done with my life thus far? No, I did not cure cancer; but in all fairness, I never imagined or strived to cure cancer. My goals were not that complicated, I wanted to love, travel, and write about experiencing life and be of some use to God.
Recently, a man whom I had never heard of, Jarrid Wilson, the co-founder of Anthem of Hope, whose work on staff, at a “mega” church, was dealing with suicide prevention, killed himself. I am not sure why, but I grieved his death. Immediately I began trying to understand why he had killed himself and who let him down. Of course I did not find any answers, they are not mine to find.
Last month someone I have known for 32 years died, and tonight, as I write this column, I have learned that someone who loved her died today. There is a sorrow in her death, not because of how she died, but because of how she lived. His death makes me sad because though he loved her, she did not love him back; yet he held on to life until she was gone. There is so much grief in the grown up world.
One of the surprises in life is that we run out of time; tomorrows become less certain and more limited. I hope I am only at mid-life, but I simply do not know; but I do have hope and hope is everything. That is all for now.