2010/12/31

Choosing again

One of the blogs I keep in my reader had this poem posted today, and honestly, I do not know a better one for the beginning of a new calendar year.

The Wild Rose
by Wendell Berry

Sometimes hidden from me
in daily custom and in trust,
so that I live by you unaware
as by the beating of my heart.

Suddenly you flare in my sight,
a wild rose blooming at the edge
of thicket, grace and light
where yesterday was only shade,

and once again I am blessed, choosing
again what I chose before.


That's it, really. "Choosing again what I chose before" and being able to feel in my bones and skin that this is the path for me. Sensing in the soles of my feet that I am walking on ground that wants me here, and seeing with my eyes and breathing deeply into my body the air of a place that knows and loves me as much as I do it.

In this year of our Lord, two thousand and ten, I turned fifty years old. I have been on my path for half a century. Every time I say this fact, I try very very hard to say it soberly. But I can't! It makes me laugh! The fact that I am fifty years old makes me want to throw my arms in the air, and reach into the vastness of space, and laugh so loudly that the echo comes back to me from the mountains on the other side of the frozen Gorge I can see from here, where I am, indoors, and in my own living room (throwing my arms in the air, and laughing). What a glorious and marvelous thing it is to be so ridiculously old, and so hilariously young at the same time. And I'm not the only one to be nuts in this way.

I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming... suddenly you find - at the age of 50, say - that a whole new life has opened before you.
Agatha Christie (1890 - 1976)

See? Me and Agatha. Aware of a second blooming.

Now, I still have more in common with the child playing on the floor than I do with the incessantly talking heads on the television (now more than ever, since the apparent fashion du jour is a combination of tortured colloquialisms and Barbie and Ken hairstyles on people too young to know what they're talking about). But I know I'm not a kid anymore, and I'm finally free from wanting to be.

And I do not want to be a teenager either.

Or a twenty something, or a thirty something, no, nor even a forty something.

Or a superhero.

I do not want to be a spy.

I do not want to eat meat pie.

My kids are grown and I am too,

And I know what I want to do.

I do not want to go back there,

I even like my graying hair.

It's true! It's as if I curled up with a book when I was about 10 years old, entered the magic palace inside the fairy tales pages, and fought the wicked stepmothers and monsters, and broke the spells, and got imprisoned and freed over and over again ... and while I was in there, even though I didn't even realize it at the time, I drank the elixir of radical acceptance. I have swallowed the cupful of Goodlife. I am full of the light-bearing liquid of Yes.

And the funniest part of the whole thing is that this ridiculous surefooted sensation probably looks to the rest of the world like the most wandering, goofy, purposeless saunter anyone ever took. It couldn't be any further from a "purpose driven" life if I were -- well, if I were still a child, curled up with a good book. This is not "the secret," and it's not the "power of positive thinking." I'm not reciting affirmations to myself either, although that can be a good tool to use. I haven't climbed a corporate ladder, or even bothered about an uninterrupted employment history, for that matter. My life has often looked (especially to the more - uh - linear people who've had opinions) like Billy's shortcut home from school. Trajectory, it is not.

But life, it is. It's not "all good," but it's also not nearly as distracted as it looks. This is my path. Mary Catherine Bateson is right. Life is Improv. It's freestyle, even if there are compulsory events. The artistic merits weigh at least as much as the technical ones, and I don't care any more if the judge with the unibrow is glowering at me. In fact, I think I just might twirl on over there and blow her a kiss.

Goodbye, 2010. And thanks.

1 comment:

Ted and Lori said...

I love that visual of the shortcut home from school. That would be my husband, who also turned 50 this year.
I like your perspective on aging. And I especially like that poem on your sidebar.

(I'm INFP)