I’m not handling my approach to my 40th birthday with much grace nor serenity. The fact that my back is all screwed up and causing me to move like a senior citizen doesn’t help the situation, either. These are the after-effects of my pregnancies and carrying of toddlers long ago. How about these popping joints, and waning vision and crop of new silver hairs? All of them tell a story of my life up until now. They are mile markers along this journey up the hill. This face looking back at me doesn’t quite match my inner vision any more, but oooohhh myyyy what these eyes have seen.
The weight of my responsibilities increases, and I can see them at the end of my day as the left side of my face further sags. During my separation five years ago I had several neurological episodes wherein that side of my face seized up for several minutes at a time. Shortly afterward I started to notice in photographs that side of my mouth and that eye not quite being symmetrical any more. The doctors tested me every way you can test and said there was nothing wrong with me, yet my eye sags.
You can say all you like that 40 isn’t “over the hill,” and “50 is the new 40” but my mom died suddenly at 59 from a cerebral hemorrhage that came completely out of the blue. So, if I live to be 80 I will consider it a great gift. Here I arrive at the fulcrum of my life, and I’m sitting on top of this hill, getting the lay of the lands beyond. I find that it feels more like a precipice and there is shadow obscuring the valley below. This is not what I had in mind when I set out on this journey of adulthood. I have no idea where to go from here. So, like the fool, I guess I’ll just have to throw my head back, and take that next step blindly. I have a feeling its a doozy.
Someone recently said to me that they “respect what I’m trying to do.” They were speaking in regards to the fact that I’m a single mother who owns her own business, and home, and when I’m home alone with my two children who are 11 and 9, that it must be very hard to accomplish everything by myself. You know, because they can barely handle the same situation WITH their spouse and parent’s help, etc. They then suggested ways of reducing my burden by giving up my kids even more time than they are taken from me now. I cannot tell you how upsetting this was, nor of the depth of my offense. Though I ask myself WHY I have responded this way to what was trying so hard to be a supportive statement.
What I’m trying to do… trying. Not doing? Not succeeding? What am I trying to do here beyond play the hand that life dealt to me? How is this different from what anyone else is doing?
I am 40 and I’m still trying to do a great many things. I look back over the track behind me, and I see lots of wandering around lost in the woods, getting distracted, walking with monsters in charming disguises; There are demons I’ve faced, and demons still dogging my heals. I see where I dropped my self-respect, and I see where I picked it back up again. I see the fields of battle; some were victories, some tragedies. I see what I’ve built, and I see what was torn down into ruin. I see the fields I’ve sown, and what I’ve harvested. I also see the haunted grounds where I’ve buried the bones of many a precious loss.
Today I stand here on this precipice and I am aware that no matter how many souls travel with me, the journey is still ULTIMATELY a solo journey. We come into the flesh on our own, and we will leave the flesh in same way. Sure, Maya, the illusion of separateness, yadda yadda, I get that, but in the flesh I face my lessons on my own and no one else can be blamed, nor praised, but myself; for better or for worse, my sickness or my health, my poverty or my wealth, as long as I live, it’s all me.
No one said that it would be easy to live a well-examined, thoroughly-activated life. If transcending beyond a petty, paranoid, fearful, hateful state of mind were easy, surely more people would do it. I’m no fool, and this isn’t the beginning of this journey, so I’ll hold out my lantern, more like the hermit, and I’ll blunder on into the darkness. So be it.
“Do or do not; there is no try.”