I recently turned 50 and I have to say there is a qualitative difference in this new decade that I hadn't bargained for, even a few months ago. The only way I can describe it is that it feels like a slowing down, a care-less-ness that I wouldn't define as apathetic or lazy, but an attitude of not worrying so damned much as I used to. This isn't to say I don't worry at all - it's just to say that my experience of anxiety has calmed down somewhat.
Perhaps it's the coming of winter (which always seems to give rise to an authentic desire to crawl into my cave and hibernate). But perhaps it's also a deeper letting go... an experience of equanimity so unfamiliar that it sometimes causes me to worry that I'm not worrying enough.
The nearly constant and familiar sense of drive, keeping up, doing more and going faster that I used to experience seems to be giving way to a new, slightly unnerving and yet wholly beautiful phenomenon of being okay right where I am – even if I feel wholly uncomfortable. And, I have to say, I have been in what feel like some extremely uncomfortable situations lately, especially when it comes to stretching into raising my bar of participation in community and relationships of all kinds.
Most of the time I relish this novel experience. Sometimes, though, as I mentioned, I worry that I may be letting everyone (yes, everyone) down in the expectations I've created that I am always up for being "out there," on the go and fired up about whatever it is that's got my attention in any particular moment. Have I become a recluse in a matter of weeks or is this simply the shedding of an identity which serves me less and less?
I choose the latter. I still thoroughly enjoy the company of others, getting lost in the rabbit hole of facebook and other webby delights, and being out on the town when I'm not tucked away at home in the middle of the forest. But, if you really knew me, you would know that I am happiest when I'm either walking barefoot on heavily calloused feet through the forest, listening to the sounds of the wind in the trees and birds scratching around in the pine needles, harvesting volunteer potatoes in my miniature garden, reading a good book with Miles Davis' "Flamenco Sketches" floating on the air, or when I've plunked myself down to write and let whatever wants to be said be said. Honestly (and this is quite scary to admit): For the most part, I like my own company better than anyone else's. I'm just happy as a clam here in my little cave!
The thing is, I simply don't feel the compulsive need to be seen and heard as much as I used to – which, yes, sometimes worries me. The question is… am I already giving up when I haven't even really gotten started with "what I'm here to do?" Have I lost my passion?
I don't think so, but I'm entirely open to hearing that I could be completely deluding myself. I think what's happening, though, is that I'm finally realizing I don't have to save the whole planet (in this lifetime anyway) – I just have to do my part, whatever that is in any given moment. And my part doesn't have to look like what I thought it did six years, six months or even six weeks ago.
This new line of thinking feels wholeheartedly dangerous as it seems to go against the grain of everything I have written about in my upcoming (yes, it's still upcoming...) book, Getting That You Matter. I'm getting ready to hunker down and finish it (finally!) and what I'm dreading is the verification of a deep intuition that it may very likely end up much shorter (God forbid!) and much simpler (again!) than I had thought it would be. Six years ago, I had every intention of writing a masterpiece of personal transformation and inspiration – not to say that it won't be inspiring, but I'm simply not as attached to the outcome of pretty much anything as I was in my 20's, 30's or 40's.
I'm deeply present to the fact that, as much as part of me wants to make my mark on the world (whatever that might look like), the bigger me - the essential feminine that's been lying in wait in the shadows of my external identity - is keenly aware that something else is afoot. In other words, I think there are other, or at least additional and very interesting, plans in store for this little chickadee... stay tuned!
p.s. Here are a couple little poems I wrote after a lovely walk in our utterly fogged-in meadow the other day. I hope you enjoy them!
fog in the meadow
trees disappear, path reveals
alone in the white
a curtain of white
opens, opens ahead,
revealing the path with each step.
trees, barn, creek come clear.
the curtain of mist
closes, closes behind,
concealing the trail I have left.
trees, grass, fear disappear.