I’ve been called the “Woman of Independent Means.” Funny, but it seems to capture all the vigor and verve of self-sufficiency, achievement and hard core measurable goals which marked my passage and intentions upon entering the decade of the 90s. I determined to change the world, to make quantum leaps in financial gain, to publish and to produce. After all, 40 was upon me and time a’fleeting.
Now, closer to 65 than to 40, I realize that the better triumphs have not come from reaching these goals but in the shadows and nuances of missing them. When things have not gone as planned and I am forced to stop in pain and confusion, I learn and grow more. And I discover how very dependent we are upon an external world to help us see meaning and discover the deeper purpose behind the seemingly meaningless. It is impossible to truly be a “woman or man of independent means.”
I have discovered that for every beast in the wilderness, there are angels in attendance. Just at that point when I am whipping myself for failures, someone comes along to remind me of some difference I never knew I made. I was looking to “win them all”. The far greater impact came from “winning one”. When I’m feeling most unlovable, some angel appears to whisper in my ear. Yes, I am dependent upon my angels.
I have discovered that unspeakable moments of beauty abound when least expected. In a juvenile “shelter” for girls from the ages of 12-17, where street-smarts and supposed hard hearts conspire to create a short lifespan of crime, I found honesty, fear and a deep desire to be loved and to love. In the bewildered, child-like brain of a failing grandfather, I found humor and humanity. And in the frightening onslaught of a lightening and hail storm atop a 12,000-foot peak, I found a sliver moon behind the clouds. I am dependent upon the experience.
I have discovered that the road away from self-absorption is other-absorption. When I am throwing a pity party, the quickest cure is to help someone else. It can be as simple as telling the store clerk that she has beautiful eyes. It can be as time-consuming as sitting with a lonely widow and letting her recall stories of her past.. Truth be told, often I’d rather whine and complain. I am dependent upon the needs of others to move me out of myself.
I have also discovered that I like myself better as a human being rather than a human doing. Talking to roses can sometimes be better than speaking to thousands. Giving myself permission to “be” rather than “do” remains a daily struggle. I am dependent upon the tug of time.
And lastly, dear reader, I do not wish to go quietly into the next decade. I’ll admit to needing bifocals and estrogen but I have no intention of aging. I’ll trade exercise for cheesecake and Chardonnay. I’ll forgo naps for too-late parties and choose time with my sweet spouse over a bursting bank account. I’ll arrange to throw my old self away, to molt the dry skin of complacency so I can discover what is new to be learned and experienced.
These are intentions, not goals. Some days I live intentionally– other days, unintentionally. We’ve all been in that knee-jerk, where-did-the day go mode. I need daily reminders to pay attention to what I intend to create: a life by design and not default. By realizing my dependency on life as my teacher, my greatest wisdom comes from just plain showing up today and living NOW. From NOW comes a day that is WON.