When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
On turning forty
This past year has been one of intense self-reflection for me, a soul-searching of sorts from which I have emerged feeling more alive than ever, and more aware of and truly grateful for the many blessings I experience in day-to-day life. I've been watching my two beautiful, smart, funny boys becoming more and more their own selves of late, and that has allowed me to focus more on developing my self as a person (outside of "mom"), too. I'm finding myself less worried about justifying to people who I am and what I do these days; I'm finally realizing that feeling good in my own skin matters more than approval from others. Four decades of life experience have earned me a certain amount of wisdom, and a confidence that allows me to open myself up to learning and trying more, and sharing more of myself with the outside world. I feel like there is a whole undiscovered road ahead of me to travel, and I've realized that the travelling should be undertaken in the spirit of appreciating moments as they're lived, because each one is unique and fleeting.
In recent years, I've watched good friends my age struggle with serious health issues, which has made me take note that like them, I am not invincible. I'm very aware now that good health (both physical and mental) is something to appreciate, and that taking care of myself is just as important as taking care of others. I've also learned that being in tune with my own true self, with what my heart needs and wants, somehow allows me to better see the vulnerabilities of others and to be understanding of their personal needs and wants, too. I seem to "feel" more of everything these days, and that sensitivity that has somehow grown deeper with age allows me to feel profoundly connected to life and the people I get to share mine with. That's pretty powerful forty-year-old stuff.
Like most people are known to do, I sometimes look back at the momentous experiences of my twenties and thirties with a bit of wistful longing, but it is always a short-lived reflection. This stage of life has its joyful, exhilarating, life-changing experiences, too; there is a richness here that is ripe for the taking. Forty may come with some more gray hair and laugh lines around the eyes, muscles that ache a little more easily, a greater sense of responsibility to family and society, and questions about whether I'm making the most of my one, no-chances-to-do-over life. But it also comes with a deep sense of pride for everything I've experienced and become thus far, and the exciting realization that sometimes at forty, life can still feel like it is just beginning....