I’ve learned in recent years that I can try to do everything right, that I can think my way to what I believe is the “right” solution, and yet it doesn’t always get the intended results. So my goal for now is not to think my to the next stage, but to feel my way. Explore the way a baby, or a toddler, or a child does. See what I can do only by embracing the possibility that I will fall, and that falling won’t kill me.
With conscious effort, I strive to harness both sadness and happiness. The sadness is on the fringe always, but the joy, an abundance of it is hovering, like a guide leading me through the darkness. When I do experience this joy, I acknowledge it. In some ways I try to bottle it up, like a genie, calling on it in times of restlessness and anxiety.
For all of the eleven months of the Jewish period of mourning and beyond, I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to move beyond the unbearable pain I felt all the time. Of course, I was completely distraught—and the intensity of my agony corresponded to the magnitude of my love.
I teared up, unable to swallow or understand why such an ordinary moment threw me off balance. I drove on, feeling undone by the power of kindness, the sort we are sometimes granted by strangers and the sort we sometimes offer them.
As a writer I value the time and space between writing my words and readers reading them. The distance provides a buffer in which to reveal my vulnerabilities. As exposed as I was on stage, immediacy created intimacy. My spoken words conjoined me with the audience. I, too, listened closely to my words. My amplified voice revealed deep longings and powered spiritual angst in a way words confined to a page never could.
No one could argue that society hasn’t changed since Disney’s animated Cinderella first hit the big screen in 1950. We have gay marriage in many states, many more women work and hold positions of power, more couples – of all types – raise kids. Yet women seem to work harder than ever sculpting, waxing and altering their bodies.
I also thought about what it means to be part of a family. You don’t choose the family you’re born into, and while you may choose a life partner, you don’t get to choose the family that comes with that person either.
I’ve always believed in the power of the words, “Thank You.” One of my favorite quotes about gratitude is from Meister Eckhart: “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”
Perhaps hardest thing of all is realizing we can’t save our kids from themselves. As they grow older, they make their own choices, choose their own paths. As parents, our influence wanes, our voices among the many they will hear and heed. This is inevitable. But it is terrifying.
I had been mostly focused on how my parents’ aging was affecting me and less on how they feel, especially as parents themselves. True, they are grandparents now, but they’ll always be parents. What does that mean to them as they approach 80?
Come celebrate with me….