I sit under the full spectrum lights, reading blogs, stroking my cat Molly next to me, and Samuel is off to work on the five days a month he can work while still receiving retirement. The frost is definitely on the pumpkins this morning. A day without my grand-daughter, or Samuel. I take a deep breath– no pressures, no job, no people. For a woman who has spent much of her life lonely, I now treasure aloneness, thrive in it, expand with it, feel full. What will today bring?
Yesterday was the picture perfect fall day… crisp, sunny and oh, so still. You could hear the tall rushes along the creek gently sweep against each other as our canoe slipped by.
“I just want to sit for a few minutes Samuel, “I said.
He stops his paddle. The quiet seeps in, the chirp of birds, the sun warming my back. The water has risen allowing passage to the pond, and under the road through the culverts. We scare off a blue heron and stare as its long leafy wings take it farther away where it feels safe and can fish in private.
He holds the boat as I get out and goes up one path but I sit awhile, craving that feeling that has escaped me these past weeks, a solidness, centeredness. I’m not there yet, but it’s coming as my body adjusts to the shorter days, and grief wears on.
What does it mean, to age gracefully? Whatever it is, I don’t have it. Both of us deal with our body’s frailties, it’s not pretty. So how do those agile, smiling aged people do it? Stages of life. I don’t want to go back and raise a child 24/7. No. That’s hard too. Each stage is hard, has challenges, but also rewards. I do the best that I can, and it takes courage.
I don’t have to try to be like anyone else. I used to try. I don’t now. I am me, still discovering me. Still leaning things about my armor, how it protects me, how it always will. And I’m OK with that. I plan to enjoy all that I can, until I can’t. I’m not going to pound myself for not being like her, him, or anyone else. I am me. Things happened which changed me. And that is that.
At a garage sale the other day with Samuel, I was looking at an outrageously ugly withered old watering can full of old, brittle dried flowers that looked more like weeds. It was extremely top heavy due to a gorgeous garden gazing ball stuck in it. I pulled it out thinking I’d ask the owner how much it was. The lady came over, grabbed it out of my hand and began trying to put it back in, fussing over it, very upset with me.
“This goes together! Now you’ve ruined it!” she exclaimed in exasperation with my audacity.
I didn’t think, I just reacted, for a miraculous change, I spoke up.
“Hey, take it easy! I didn’t kill anyone!” I retorted angrily, indignantly.
She eventually apologized, and also sold me the gazing ball separately for two bucks. People are weird, and have their own stuff. Wow, it’s taken me so long to see, believe and understand, that every negative interaction is not about me. Very often it’s other people’s stuff.
And I don’t have to hate them for having stuff. I can accept that they too have stuff, and it’s alright. This is something others already know, like Samuel and my sons, and just about anybody else I’ve observed. But for me, in my castle, all armored, allowing others in because of their stuff, their craziness, was just too much. It still is. I guard myself from others because my shields are not dependable. Their stuff invades no matter how hard I try to not let it.
But this was miraculous. That I spoke up without censor. Something I’ve watched others do all my life, or as long as I remember, yet I couldn’t, no matter how hard I tried. I felt so powerful, so whole, that the feeling usually trapped, came right up and out, just how it’s supposed to. When it hurts, say ouch. So simple, yet so hard for me, trained to do the opposite.