Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Your Own Life

We were talking about the space between us all
And the people who hide themselves behind a wall of illusion.
Never glimpse the truth, then it's far too late, when they pass away.

We were talking about the love that's gone so cold and the people
Who gain the world and lose their soul.
They don't know. They can't see. Are you one of them?

When you've seen beyond yourself, then you may find peace of mind is waiting there.

~~Within You/Without You, George Harrison
When I was young, really young, the words, "The older I get...." followed by an observation were causes for eye-rolling sighs. Overused words - 'the older I get' - but the insights that follow can be pristine. Helpful, useful, valuable, though I didn't recognize that then. Why would I? I already knew just about everything.

The older I get the more I find my attention snapping to when I hear the words, 'the older I get.' I'm finally beginning to realize that if I can grasp what a further-along-person is sharing with me, I can perhaps avoid a pitfall, or better, glean a truth without struggling quite so hard. The nuggets are not freebies because they have to be ingested, pondered, understood, before they can be fully digested. But they can be easier to come by than hard-earned wisdom.

The older I get the more I realize I don't know. How many times have I heard that? Many many many. What I 'don't know' is more than ordinary knowledge of everyday worldly-type things. Sure, there are new words, new foods, new techie things, places, people, books and songs to discover. Any fool knows that the longer a person lives the more he or she will encounter. Naturally.

But this fool is surprised to find dimensions of life new to her. Deeper levels of understanding and confusion. Harsher bites from life than imagined possible. Painful realizations of her own, well, badness. And, happily, illuminations of higher potential and achievement than dreamed. While the dark stuff is unsettling - truth can be a stinker - the good stuff is more than pleasant.

To find that, somehow in the course of my existence, I have transcended from darkness to light, or inability to ability, or misunderstanding to understanding in certain areas - seemingly while I wasn't looking - soothes and excites my heart. To know that the struggles, choices, and mistakes I've made in a span of years were knitting together a gift for me of some sort of betterment is humbling and exhilarating all at once. Gives me hope. Knocks some of my crustiness away.

Steve Jobs says it better in his 2005 commencement speech to Stanford: "...you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."

So true! I guess the reason we older-than-some people find amazement in life where younger people don't is that we can actually look back and see a long, jointed line of connected dots. It's thrilling! When the outcome is positive, of course. If one looks back and sees bad choices and unfortunate events connected together to create immense, painful disappointments, well, the reaction may still be amazement but it could be sad. Very sad. I think we all have sections of dots whose connections lead to regret. Thankfully, as long as we live and breathe, possibility exists that the negative will work together for good.

Steve spoke to me in another paragraph of his speech: "When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: 'If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right.' It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."

The older I get the more I see that this is an outstanding perspective, and excellent advice. Not for the lazy or ignoble; they'll abuse it. But for those of us who realize we only go around once and that our time is what we make of it, that look in the mirror and the answering of the question may revitalize our senses, our purpose, our joy.

Dare to live your own life.


deanna said...

Hi there, Cherie. For some reason, I missed this post in my reader until today.

"To know that the struggles, choices, and mistakes I've made in a span of years were knitting together a gift for me of some sort of betterment is humbling and exhilarating all at once. Gives me hope. Knocks some of my crustiness away."

May I remember your wise words the older I get! Thanks.

P.S. Hm...and my word verification is "fuskid." What's it trying to tell me...?

cecily said...

Rich words Cherie, which I understand in part, but am sure I'll get more out of the older I get! :-)

Ben said...

Nice pic, Mom! I know that bridge :)

tom said...

This is one of your most profound posts yet. I see what you meant by "we can do better" last night

Cherie said...

Thanks everyone!

Ben - coming from you, high praise!

Tom - yep