Getting Life Right

Getting life right…  Perhaps by the time I’m in my sixties or seventies?

Kids long for the days to pass.  I struggled to add an extra few weeks to my age. I remember being 7 3/4 and the agony of going so slow and counting the days to my 8th birthday. It was easy to be ‘in the moment’… Because each moment seemed like it was there for ages.

Now I find myself grabbing at those moments as they slip by, catching one now and again. The world seems to speed up as you get older. My grandson still thinks birthdays are miles apart but there are tears in my 89-year-old friend Bill’s eyes as we sing Auld Lang Syne.

I try hard to clear my mind of my own thoughts – half a century’s worth of ‘noise’ – and hear my sons’ newer opinions and sharp perception about today’s complicated world.

I am grateful for my sons’ willingness to share with me what they think about various economic and global issues. I am touched by their love and their respect for my insights. I treasure their passionate thoughts, their earnest caring, their calm reassurances and their level headedness. I marvel – albeit tiredly – at their ability to juggle so much – against such heavy odds – and yet still remain hopeful.

I treasure that I am able to help ease their burdens, just a little, here and there.  To feel complete I must fill all my needs (myself of course) including my needs for contribution and meaning. It’s a win:win situation. The truth is that to be happy,  I need to be a part of their lives.

The morning’s grey mist burned off to a sunny and absolutely gorgeous day. A gift from God. In the stillness of my solitude I am able to look at each piece.  I’m grateful indeed for the gift of young ‘strength’, given to me lovingly by my sons. I am equally grateful that I can share what I’ve learned with them: the need for contribution so easily missed.

Surviving – thriving – in today’s world demands both the young and the old. Maybe it always has? It requires the thinking speed and muscle of youth, to grab these important bytes of information as they hurtle past. Valuable too is the experience of age, turning these precious nuggets of wisdom over and over and bringing their precious code into sharper focus in order that we can complete our gift to our children.

Maybe one of the things we don’t see – as children, parents and just as people – is that to ‘give’ gifts is as important as to receive? To contribution is a real need. To give as well as accept from others – and from life – is equally important and to be happy we need to be doing both. It sounds easy and obvious but so often there’s quite a bit of resistance around it? We don’t like to ‘ask’ or to ‘take’ and in today’s society it has somehow come to be regarded as ‘wrong’ to be anything other than totally independent. What we’re really doing is preventing someone from contributing and refusing their gift… Which they need as much as us?!

The warm sun sinks deep into my upturned face and for a moment I see clearly the intricate – and essential – dance of wisdom and survival itself between the young and the old. I’m so very grateful that.

I have a moment’s insight into why so many people retire away from their families: it’s so much easier. Part of me wants to walk on tropical beaches and sip pina coladas under a palm tree and be endlessly selfish. However I see this would not address my very real need for contribution, community, nurturing and a hundred other needs and would soon ‘get old’.

It wouldn’t work — for more than a few months each year… (Exciting thought?!)


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