“It is only by following your deepest instinct that you can lead a rich life and if you let your fear of consequence prevent you from following your deepest instinct then your life will be safe, expedient and thin.”
~Katharine Butler Hathaway
I found the above quote in the book: Something More; Excavating Your Authentic Self by Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of Simple Abundance.
I found this book at our local (teeny, tiny) library last week. I had gone in search of a Marianne Williamson book but found this instead. I’m glad I did. It has given me a new ‘lens’ through which to view and consider my current circumstances and life stage.
I’m 44 right now. And I have a not-yet-3-year-old child. The first part of that puts me in one life stage and the second in a somewhat different one. I am ‘in the trenches’ of motherhood with my 20 and 30-something compatriots. But I am spiritually different from what I was 10 and 20 years ago and am struggling to get all these influences to align into something manageable and understandable.
One’s 40s are more a time (stereotypically at least) to be more self-centered. Many of my same-age-peers are sending children off to college or at least into the entryway of their adult lives. This provides more time for pursuing personal interests, hobbies and passions.
I am working on a process of continual excavation and illumination to understand myself better…but also some days struggling to balance that with the needs of small children.
Not that this is unique. I think that parents at all ages struggle to meet their childrens’ needs, be good parents, and yet not be consumed by the role of Parent along the way.
The unique part, for me, is the process of finding my voice as a 40-something. Where years ago I would bend and stretch and do whatever I had to do to make connections, forge friendships and make things work…now? not so much. 🙂
I have entered a phase of just having no time or patience for other people’s crap. This is not to say that I cannot listen sympathetically and proactively when a friend needs a shoulder. It does mean that I will not put a lot of effort into creating relationships with people who are still deep into self-denial and puffed up sense of their own importance. I simply have no patience for it anymore.
A couple of nights ago, as I lay trying (unsuccessfully) to get to sleep I was thinking about all of these things and, simply, feeling inadequate. I got up, the whole house slept, put on a fuzzy sweater and curled up with Something More for several hours of solitary reading time.
Laugh at me if you will (seriously, go ahead, I’ll not know or care) but it had never occurred to me that these emotions, this growing lack of patience for things contrived or lacking depth, could have something, anything to do with my stage in life. Nope. I just chalked it up to yet another thing I just simply sucked at. 😉
But there, within that book I read about the lives of other women ‘of a certain age’ and their words, experiences, passions and responses resonated within a deeper part of myself than what I had been accessing.
Excavating. I like that word. It involves work and accessing a place of depth and elemental awarenss.
Something More also speaks to The Wilderness…that place we must go to, usually out of loneliness, grief or despair…to find self. I’ve spent much of the last 2 years in The Wilderness. Unfortunately a good bit of that time I wasn’t aware of the gift that was before me…this time in The Wilderness, so I wasted my energy (physical and spiritual) on either whining about being there or obsessing about how to get out.
It wasn’t until last winter, in that too-small-for-us apartment in Bethesda that I began to realize that the loneliness and unrootedness and growing despair were exactly what I needed to engage in passionate excavation.
Now life circumstances are good and pleasing and soul-filling. And I am glad that I am fully aware and awake to enjoy it all and be grateful.
I have changed much since the Fall of 2007…when this journey began in earnest.
I understand my strengths and weaknesses much better and I can more easily access passion as a daily life attribute.
I still have much work to do, but if I didn’t life wouldn’t be interesting and engaging.
I never want to live a life that is ‘safe, expedient and thin’ nor expect such of my family. I want my children to live LARGE, loud and passionate lives. Good thing too, since that is exactly what they have in mind. 🙂
One last quote from Something More:
“…you can only borrow other people’s stories after you’ve started living your own. You must become your own heroine. Most people have lives crowded with incident but without purpose. You must start seeing each day as a blank page waiting to be filled up with amusing anecdotes, profound turning points, provocative choices, and pursuits of passion. The world adores storytellers, but deplores those who refuse to live their own stories.” (pg280)