Thursday, October 18, 2012

where is your spirit?

evening. present day. the sounds of monday night football are erupting from the television. spouse exclaims "the home team is playing!", and when he doesn't get the response from me he hopes for, asks, "where's your spirit?"  little does he know he just gave me excellent food for thought. where is my spirit? 

actually, i'd rather call it "spark", or "passion" or "life force". the word "spirit" reminds me of organized religion, something i choose to stay as far away from as possible. a story for another day... 

truth be told, my spark has gone missing. here i am in the third and final stage of my life on this side of the thin veil. a more-than middle-aged woman with less than full time employment, i have two grown sons with lives of their own. my spouse works more-than full time, travels, plays golf and basketball and cards with the guys. crones don't whine, so i don't begrudge any of them their lives or their activities, but i've lost myself somewhere along the way. the cliched empty-nester, home with the dog and the laundry and the echoing walls, i feel like something is missing. 

because we make a comfortable living, i have time to lament my situation. having that luxury can be a hindrance to happiness, but taking the time to work through this next chapter is time well spent, and eventually i hope to have some epiphany about how to enjoy the last however many years of my life.

when i was younger there was so much to look forward to. i had energy and optimism and a healthy enthusiasm, a passion for life. there was no internal dialogue in the moments before rising about whether or not it was a day worth getting up for, and having an entire day ahead of me was cause for celebration rather than apprehension. the highlight of my day wasn't climbing into bed at night as it sometimes is these days, waiting for the unconscious state that allows me to escape my life for a few hours. comparing my life as a maiden
 to my life as a crone is perfectly normal. we all think about our lost youth now and again. evaluating where we've been and how we've changed (and, hopefully, grown) is part of life. we settle into the rhythm of days we thought we wanted, finding some of it as good as we hoped for, some much different than we expected, all the while wondering where what seemed like gobs of time went. if we're successful, we adjust and find new things to engage us. 

my sister recently told me a saying she has heard her mother-in-law, a sweet and wise woman, say. "too soon old, too late smart" is a cautionary tale for all of us, maiden or crone. it's time to stop looking backward and look ahead to the beginning of my next chapter, the one where i figure out how to relight the spark, find what i'm looking for, and recognize it when i find it. how will i do that? how, indeed.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

a walk around the lake

i feel very restless today. strange - lately i'm either slothful or restless, no in between. i can't get off the couch (though i don't know where i'd rather be or what i'd rather be doing) or i can't stay on it (but have no idea where to go). it feels imperative that i make a big decision about my life, that i choose between door number one and door number two, in order to move out of this limbo i'm in. i have to take the right fork or the left fork - the path straight ahead has come to an end. 

knowing i have to do something to calm my nerves and distract myself from my inertia, i head to a park close by, leaving the dog, the laundry and the empty house. even making that small decision has a positive effect on my outlook. i take the situation in hand. a positive step.

it is autumn. it was my mother's favorite season, and it is mine. while many see this time of year as a harbinger of the cold, white dead of winter and so dread its coming, i feel energized by all that it brings. i walk around the man-made lake and breathe in the crisp, cleansing air. the trees that were left when the lake was dredged some 60 years ago are proudly displaying their vibrantly colored leaves and along the shoreline they are reflected in the still water. as i walk and focus on the simple yet complex beauty of the natural world, i feel the restorative influence of the season begin to dissolve the grey veil covering my soul.  

as i round the first bend i see several geese in the water and one brave soul standing right next to the gravel path. i greet him and wish him well and feel emotionally lighter for having done so, perhaps because the act of reaching out is so crucial to life, even if it is "just" to a goose. truth be told, on a day like today, i'd rather be interacting with geese and ducks and the wind that scatters the leaves than doing anything else. i feel connected to something vast and important and abiding. by taking a few steps along the path, putting one foot in front of the other, i notice that my mind becomes more focused, less scattered. wallace stevens once said "perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake." there is no doubt that i feel closer to my own truth when i am here. i make a promise to myself to return as often as i can, to choose this place of calm and quiet over the passive world under the covers where i once waited for something to change. 

do i know now what door to pick, what road to take? nope. i still don't have any idea. what i do know is that when the time comes for me to make a decision, i will know in my bones that it is the right one for me. as the trees of autumn let go of the changing leaves, so do i let go of old worries and fears, resting for a spell so as to re-emerge into something new and subtly different. i have found a calm and centering way to be aware of and learn from for what dr. bolen calls the "ineffable yet profoundly transformative" experiences. i am ready.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

time is short

yesterday i was home and slothful much of the morning. instead of sinking into total apathy, i laced up my shoes, strapped on my ipod and headed out the door for my walk. while listening to john whelan's energizing two-button accordion and irish pipe music, it occurred to me that a lot of the clutter i've allowed to camp out in my head is unbecoming of a crone. i thought about the book crones don't whine, written by jean shinoda bolen, a psychiatrist, feminist and former board member of the ms. foundation for women. i think of it as my guidebook to living into this phase of my life. in it she writes, "to aspire to be a crone is to want the psychological and spiritual growth that she symbolizes. the crone is an archetype, an inner potential that we grow into becoming." i want to stand in that line.

taking a tip from organization gurus, i made two virtual piles of the clutter: issues deserving of more consideration and issues needing to be pitched once and for all. if living into psychological and spiritual growth and attaining the inner potential of crone is the goal, then i'd have to do the work.

one absolute truth is that crones don't hold grudges. someone once said that resentment is like taking poison and hoping the other person will die. holding a grudge, or holding on to a negative experience, replaying it over and over in your mind, has the same effect. most of the time my thoughts swerve from how to take the high road (crone behavior) to how to hurt those who have hurt me (revenge, which requires emotional detachment, something i've never been accused of having.) taking the road less traveled is hard, though ultimately it does make all the difference. 

time is short, and getting shorter. why sully it with thoughts about something i can't control or change? my walk clarified things. my energy and outlook improved with the beat of the music, the temperature and feel of the autumn wind whipping the brightly-hued leaves around my feet and the musky, earthy smells of this, my favorite time of year. i was revitalized mentally and physically away from the noise of civilization, surrounded by the natural world. why waste precious energy on the petty behaviors of people who haven't been in my life for over two years? to what purpose wasting time on how things were done and how they might have been handled? why expend precious moments worrying about how those people are living their lives? realizing i had no desire to hold them in my energy field any longer, i relegated them all to the trash pile. much better. 

and so the day ended with my spirit calmer and stronger than when it began. in repose mentally and physically, i thought briefly of the buckets of agitation and clutter that still need attention, but decided that banishing them would have to wait for another day. the present moment, i told myself, is for rest.