It goes by fast

As some of you know I’ve taken a brief respite from two years of writing this blog. But this post today visited me unexpectedly and asked to be written. Here it is. I share it with deep gratitude.

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Birthdays make me wax philosophical. I become more than my usual existential self. It’s not a matter of “to be” but where I am now, in that “being-ness.”

To that end, a friend and I were discussing the question that seems to have become popular as of late: “What would you tell your younger self if you could?” My mind went through the Rolodex (that’s how old I am) of pieces of sage wisdom.

I smiled and said, “It goes by fast. That’s what I’d tell the younger me.” He turned and asked, “Would you have listened?”

Probably not.

When we’re younger we may not look too far ahead. No need. Yes, we plan, we work, raise a family, whatever it may be, but mostly, our vision is short-term. We have the illusion that life is forever, with many days left, much time to do whatever we need to with our lives.

But the truth is, as I head into the end of this decade of my 60s, I can say, with honesty, life is short.

I’ve seen friends die, or lose their spouses or children. And those deeper, philosophical questions seem to plague me now more than ever: How many years do I have left to fulfill whatever I came here to do? And what is that anyway? Do I have enough time to do whatever “that” is?

When we are younger, we don’t dwell on those questions; in our older years, the questions dwell on us – whether we like it or not.

It’s more than curious to me that I seem to have a history. I can look back with perspective, as if standing on a hill and viewing the landscape of my life. And what do I see?

At the risk of sounding too corny (but I do love James Taylor), I have indeed seen fire and rain. I’ve had moments of joy, deep sadness, longing to belong to something deeper in life, given up hope, rallied, dug deeper, laughed at myself. All these are shared experiences that make us human. That’s what I see.

And sometimes I’ve just screwed things up.

But I’ve learned from that. At least I hope I have. Mistakes are part of life’s journey and in them I’ve discovered parts of me that are teachable, the essence of my being that wants to grow, evolve and become more compassionate and loving.

As I age, I’ve also found that things of mammon, or of this world, really don’t impress me anymore. Call me a curmudgeon or a not-so-material girl, but I’m no longer invested in what I can get.

But what I can give.

And what does impress me? A soft summer rain, the lulling or crashing waves of the ocean, a forest sweet with the smell of earth, my toes in green grass, a child’s giggle, a long, delicious nap, the deep inhale of pure, clean air. Seeing the potential of genuine goodness in others and in myself.

And here’s what I continue to learn.

Life will unfold, with joy or with sorrow and many times with the ordinary hum-drum of days — and that the “powerful play goes on and that you may contribute a verse.”

And what is my verse? I don’t know. Even at my age I still struggle with this. In the end perhaps life’s journey is stumbling in the dark, trusting in a Higher Power that always guides us, love us. That we are where we are meant to be — and I don’t mean that as a platitude or cliché — and that somehow we exist in each sacred moment as intended by the Divine.

And perhaps that verse is simply being love. Every second. Because it does go by fast. It does.

 

 

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Surrender, Supergirl

“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” ~ Joseph Campbell

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When I was a little girl I wanted to be Lois Lane or Supergirl. They were my role models — smart, sassy, fierce and they got the job done. I followed and devoured their escapades in the comic books.

Yep. I wanted to be a first-class reporter or have super powers to save the world. Maybe both.

supergirlTHIS lois lane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That was the life my childlike self had planned. Then, as I grew older, other dreams and plans took shape. Best-selling author? Inspirational speaker? World traveler? Rich and famous? Well, not so much fame. Intimidating. But money would be nice. I could help so many others and myself.

But the thing is, life doesn’t always turn out like we planned.

And what I’m learning in my ripe old age is an ongoing lesson for me — one I write about often — that I’m not in control.

That I have to let go and let God.

Now that’s nothing new. Everyone from the Twelve Steps Program to Tosha Silver http://ToshaSilver.com to St. Ignatius in his Suscipe prayer http://bit.ly/29uclHi have written and spoken about this.

But doing it? The actual act of really letting go and handing it all over to a Higher Power? That’s a whole other thing. It seems I surrender to acceptance of the life I have now and then take it back faster than you can say The Daily Planet or Kryptonite.

When you come right down to it, letting go is a process. And that process is humbling. Mucho, mucho humbling.

humilityLife hits us with the unexpected — a divorce, a death, a health challenge and there we are, detouring off what we thought was our chosen course. The life we planned or hoped for feels like a ship disappearing onto the distant horizon.

John Lennon said: “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”

Indeed.

But here’s the other truth I’m learning. Wherever I am — outside of that so-called planned life — is really OK. This is not a rationalization but a deep truth that if I surrender to the Divine, I’m exactly where I’m meant to be, no matter how many detours, disasters or wrong choices I’ve made.

An old proverb says that “God writes straight with crooked lines.” That means that whatever happens in life — no matter how we judge or perceive it as horrible — the Divine is turning it to our good. Always.

letting_go_by_bandico-d5s1eyhThat all sounds so good and wise doesn’t it? I talk a good game, but if I don’t practice what I preach, my words mean little.

So, as I sit here writing this, I’m struggling right now with surrendering to God a difficult, personal issue in my life. I really don’t have any answers.

No, I don’t have it figured out — any of it — and that’s frightening. That’s the “control” part of me speaking, the part that is clinging to my plan and agenda. But day by day, I pray that I am learning to be at peace with whatever is happening. And even if not, I’m growing.

Whether I’m struggling or accepting my life — if I’m open to it — I’m still growing.

In the end, I did become a reporter at a newspaper. I wasn’t Lois Lane and Superman was nowhere to be found to rescue me. I discovered I had to save myself first. Only then could I be of genuine service to others. I’m still learning that one.

As to Supergirl. Here’s what I’ve decided, about me and each and everyone of us. We have more super powers than she’ll ever have.

We may not be women and men of steel, but we have strength of heart — a courage and bravery that rises up in love on the darkest of days.

We pick ourselves up and fly to a new level of wisdom when life slams us sideways.

We look with x-ray vision into the hearts of others and offer compassion.

And in many ways, small and big, we are rescuing our own corner of planet Earth.

So this life I have now?

No. It’s not the one I planned at all. I always thought I’d write a best-selling book, travel the world and inspire others to find the Divine within. That was my plan. But instead, I am caring for dad who had a stroke, in early retirement living on a meager budget, writing this blog, still part of the great unpublished with my novels collecting dust, and wondering what’s next.

I don’t have a clue.

Many times I still question, kick and scream, wanting it “my way or the highway.”

Other days, I let go and trust that God is guiding me, leading me, even though I don’t know what the Divine agenda is. But I’m listening. Yes, dear Lord, in all humility, I’m listening.

So I take a deep breath. I trust. I relax. supergirl S on chest

I surrender. That’s what the big “S” on my chest stands for, in case you were wondering. I need to be reminded. A lot.