Age has given me what I was looking for my entire life – it has given me, “me”. It has provided time and experience and failures and triumphs and time-tested friends who have helped me step into the shape that was waiting for me. I fit into me now. – Anne Lamott
Some days it feels like I am moving through life at the speed of my age. Christmas took forever to arrive when I was seven. Today, with an age that breaks most speed limits, the ornaments and lights seem to go in and out of the attic every other month.
Just a few days ago, I was sitting on the porch, drinking coffee, minding my own business, when I glanced down and beheld my father’s hairless, wrinkled knees.
“Sally,” I groaned, “My legs need botox!”
Swiss psychologist Carl Jung once wrote, “Life is a short pause between two mysteries.” He must have been really old to come up with that line, as it is a wisdom that only comes with age.
Of course, life is not as short as it used to be. A century ago, the average American lived only 47 years. No one had time for a mid-life crisis or got rich selling long-term care insurance. Today, we have the equivalency of multiple lifetimes and experience second adulthoods. We are afforded time to recover what we wasted through impatience and poor choices. With help from others and hearts open to change, we can retrieve what we left behind in childhood through trauma, abuse and shaming.
We may grow older – much older in fact – but the “same-old-same-old” will persist if we can’t let go of our baked-in understandings of who we think we are; of why we are loved or what we deserve. Instead, we cling to the familiar, we opt for certainty and being right over ambiguity and starting down a path that feels like we are losing control.
That would have been me had it not been for the blessings of a broken heart, a few humiliating moments, and a complete loss of confidence in what I believed was the God-ordained formula for a happy and meaningful life.
I’m now thankful for these experiences and I am especially grateful for the friends and professionals who mentored me, and who reminded me again and again that God is forever in love with me, not the person I think I am. What a gift are those who have offered me the permission, the awareness and the tools, to stay on this path deep into my second adulthood.
All of this has done more than adding years of life expectancy. It has given me guidance on how to live while living longer. As Anne Lamott said, “It has given me what I was looking for my entire life – it has given me, ‘me.’”