Friday, May 24, 2013

Life is sweet

What is life? One way to describe it is as a sacred drama, soulfully enacted. There are many costume changes in life, and the set changes are relentless, too. Think of the number of actors it would take to portray a person moving through the entire story of the sacred drama of life. Wow. Or should I say whoa?

In the first half, we become fully invested in physical form by growing and maturing, then acquiring, partnering, having kids, pets, homes, cars and other stuff.

The second half of life is about letting go, a sacred drama indeed, and not what most people are best at. We are shapers of the world, we have opposable thumbs. We are relentlessly creative, always coming up with ideas about other ways to shape and hold the world in our fantastically dextrous hands. Also we are a working species, like bees or dogs. If we aren't what we think is productive, we are unhappy.

When the time comes to begin the unravelling of the fiefdoms of family, job and possessions, some people resist the inevitable. We're so good at gripping, it hardly seems fair that a time will come when release is the only rational option. In U.S. culture we are encouraged to hang on even tighter, to deny the second half of life. It's quite weird.

I've been observing my fellow boomers, myself too, as we enter early old age. The let-it-all-hang-out generation is struggling more than we might have imagined, at letting go.

I have somewhat of an easier task ahead than those who have been what we consider successful. I'm talking about the people who have stature and money and own property, you know. They worked so hard to attain these things. Maybe they really love the fruits of their success dearly and do not wish to relinquish them. It does seem a bit unfair that they have to, but they surely do. Resistance is futile.

I'm looking out my window right now at the almost unbelievable lushness of early summer in DC. The leaves couldn't be fuller or greener, gardens are jungles full of exotic flowers. The midatlantic landscape in late May is ripe in every way imaginable.

Once the heat of summer sets in, the more fragile blooming plants will shut down for the summer. The roses will bloom, but their flowers will be tougher. By August, summer will have worn itself out and then fall will arrive at which time the green world here will gladly, eagerly, let go of the detritus of seasonal youth. I admire the grace of the green world, the easy-come, easy-go attitude.

When a neighborhood tree dies and must be cut down we humans grieve. The people freak out (we love our trees so much). But when I check in with the spirits of these trees, they seem absolutely fine about it. They've always been a part of this earth, and will continue to be here, in some form or another, until Brother Sun explodes. Trees will persevere, while our complicated, over populated species will become extinct at some point. Maybe that's why we panic at the thought of letting go. Maybe it's instinctual.

All my life I was very nonchalant about this incarnation. As a youth I was downright flippant about being alive. I complained a lot and felt put upon by the enormity of my karma. Awww ... poor little Reya.

I'm sixty now. I'm no longer flippant. Life is precious, it surely is. Externally I've never been what would be considered successful, hence there's almost nothing to let go of, but I've been very successful internally. It's that arena that will be hard to ditch, when the time comes.

Meanwhile my body ages. It's aging so quickly these days. It could be alarming, but I will try to be graceful as I enact the last decades of the sacred drama of this lifetime. I'll look to the trees to show me the way, like many before me. I'll gaze at the stars whenever I can, to seek inspiration. I'll try! Wish me luck.


8 comments: said...

Hi Reya,
I wanted to tell you that I appreciate your posts on aging. There's no goo road map for this journey, but it helps to have some trail markers left by those who walk ahead of me.

So thanks,
Maggie said...

I meant good road map. Arthritis in the D-key finger makes it clumsy.

Elizabeth Wix said...

A splendid essay, Reya.
A beautiful rose too.
Yes, we must savor and enjoy everything we can.

Reya Mellicker said...

Thanks, Maggie.

Elizabeth - I miss you.

Pam said...

Oh that rose is beautiful!
We too recently 60 year old Aquarians must be on exactly the same path at the moment, so much so that my pondered word yesterday was 'success'.
It's a word I've veered away from, equating it with the more negative aspects of materialism, ambition, boastfulness, richness, even smugness. I don't see myself as unsuccessful but have had aforementioned aspects of success rubbed in my face a little too often for comfort. My gentler definitions of success seemed to count for nothing when looking at a bank balance, or indeed popularity on a well-heeled social scale.
Yesterday was a bad day for me - with long term chronic health issues in our family taking their toll particularly financially.
It came to me (not in a shower moment but driving)that expressing gratitude has an equal partner in looking for small successes, in our own lives and others, and celebrating them with love. There are always very small success around that need acknowledging.
I'm reading Betty Friedan's "The Fountain of Age - revolutionizes our ideas about age and how we live our lives." (ISBN 0-0916481-7 Vintage Press). I enjoyed her 'The Feminine Mystique' in its time and this is even more appropriate to me now. I think you'd enjoy it!

Steve Reed said...

Everybody is flippant about being alive as a youth, don't you think? While being older may mean relinquishing some things, it also means acquiring an appreciation for all that's gone before -- and relating that to coming generations, as you're doing through your writing. Don't you think? You're still acquiring, just in a different way!

Rebecca Clayton said...

This gives me something to think about:
"I've been very successful internally. It's that arena that will be hard to ditch, when the time comes."
I'd been feeling pleased with myself at how easy it's been to give up my need for "stuff." But of course, not all "stuff" is material, is it?

Reya Mellicker said...

Must get the Betty Friedan book.

Steve you are probably right.

And Rebecca (big sigh) yeah.