Surrender

Learning to live in the fullnesss of midlife is a lot like learning to swim:  surrendering my self to what  wants to support me, if only I could relax.  I couldn’t put this into words until I saw this marvelous photo by  Kathleen Wilke : it took my breath away.

Relaxation is not my habit. I did not start out in life with a very good hand, so I had to work hard to build what I have.  My comfortable home and the career I love are the result of discipline and ceaseless effort.  I spent my twenties  and thirties  learning things the hard way: I made some bad financial choices, quit smoking several times, and shed some relationships that felt  good to me but weren’t good for me.

But by the time I reached my forties, I knew what to do. I worked hard to finish college, and  finally pushed myself through graduate school.  I unlearned what I thought I knew about love, and learned to be loyal to someone else’s desires.  Finally, I think I’ve learned how not to give myself away to those who don’t deserve me.  I’ve learned to make friends with my knees, and  wear sensible shoes (at least most of the time.)

My thirties felt like training for a marathon,  but my forties felt like a decade of power.  At forty, I thought I had the world on a string. So I’m a little disoriented that, at 48,  things seem so easy :  I accomplish with the slightest effort things  that used to take me hours of  planning and angst.  I wonder if I am becoming  lazy.  I worry that I am committing that unspeakable crime among middle-aged women : letting myself go.

Yet letting go of my habit of striving is simply surrendering to the masterful woman I have become.  Some days I am at ease with this mastery, as if it was the element for which  I was born.  Other days, I churn about, thrashing and searching for solid ground.  It’s hard to remember when I am afraid that all I need to do is relax and be myself. I need this image as a reminder of what it means to move into this age with purpose: the life I’ve made will fully support me whenever I stop struggling, and remember to breathe.

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Comments

  • jude  On October 18, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Whatever word you use for letting go, it is the only skill guaranteed to be more & most needed as we age. There is no way to anticipate the intersection of our strengths and weaknesses with the inconceivable. And there seems so far to be no age at which loosing capacity is not a complete surprise, and the re-ordering of the universe a whole new task. Only surrender/letting go allows access to – not what is “left” – but what, for the ever-shifting moment, *is*.

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