The Glorious Death of Youth
The older I get the more I realize that I am mellowing. While I am more set in my ways in many instances, I am also seeing the larger picture as I age and death becomes more of a reality than a theory.
I will be 50 in a few months. It occurs to me on an almost daily basis that probably more than half my life is over. I don’t really want to live to be 100. I mean unless I can be like Beatrice Wood - who is still keeping the company of young men and eating chocolate. She was also drinking but I had to give that up a quarter of my life ago. I sincerely hope that it won’t be a problem if I leave that part off of the trifecta of growing older.
I am not dealing with middle age by having an affair or buying a sports car or a whole host of other ways that we attempt to avoid the inevitable. What I am doing is realizing more and more often that life is finite and wherever I go after this - I am sure that how I lived this life will have some impact in the great beyond.
I find myself being kinder and taking things slower. This is a shock to me. I would think that my natural tendency of speeding up would be operative here. I would want to pack more in to whatever time I have left. However the opposite is true. I want to savor and richly enjoy my life in these moments. I want to soak it in the way that one only does in moments that portend the end. Why is it that we only savor, or at least tend to, when we are on our way out?
As 50 fast approaches I am aware of all the things I am losing: youth, flexibility, sleep, taut, tight skin, boundless energy but I find myself more focused on the things I have gained...self respect, the ability to love me even with all the flaws, a level of self love and acceptance that I never dreamed was possible, acceptance and a level of gratitude towards my past, all of my past, that I also never believed was possible, love of others (even the ones that irritate the shit out of me), accepting that I know things and trust my instinct and intuition as my inner guide.
In short, my self inventory at almost 50 shows me that I am pretty fucking amazed at who I turned out to be. Sure, I am not without my faults, but I even love those parts of myself and while I do endeavor to change, I am really ok if I never get any better than right here.
As an example, my early life was traumatic and I was probably the last one to know just how much and for how long this trauma would color, alter and force my life to take a trajectory other than the one that I would have perhaps otherwise taken. This trauma has most affected my ability to have intimate relationships. In fact, it has forced me to try to have them over and over and over again to no real avail. I always leave or more recently am left...I just don’t seem to be able to find someone that I can commit to and love that loves me back. I see other people doing it. I see lots of people married or in committed relationships and they seem happy. For me, they terrify me. I try for awhile and then I have to quit. I have to take a breather. I know that I over do the whole relationship thing but I think that I am just desperately trying to find out how to love someone.
What I have realized more recently is that loving others was my path to learning to love myself...flaws and all. This process of loving others, heartbreak and then recovery has brought me to a place where I have accepted that I may never recover from my past. I may never be able to do intimacy well. I might be forever alone. I am ok with this too. This is not coming from a place of dire resignation and defeat...instead a quiet, loving place where I am ok doing the next indicated thing.
My whole journey may just be about that...trying, failing, hating me, working on me, loving me and then trying again. Repeatedly. And if this is as good as it ever gets, I have no complaints. I wouldn’t change it - any of it. I am so very grateful that I have lived the motherfucking shit out of this life of mine. I pray you do too.