Vulnerable?

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“as we mature”…

I love the way Whyte so nicely says “get old”..but, you know, I have to make some kind of crack because when I saw this I immediately burst into tears.

I just don’t know if there is a better description, for me, of what I have been feeling lately, of why I picked trust as my WOTY and how clearly I am seeing the relationship between trust, vulnerability and courage.  I know and certainly unconsciously knew when I picked the word (and can I just say that both BRAVE and VULNERABLE made the short list this year) that I have to , as Whyte says “combecome larger and more courageous and compassionate”. Because I am becoming more and more intimate with disappearance and the understanding of what that truly is.

And I have no choice in the matter of “maturity”, so how I inhabit it is important.

I was at a meditation group last night where we did an exercise in mindful listening. I’m actually quite good at that, it’s what I do in my grief groups. I listen, and in order to be effective, to ask the right questions, I have to listen purposely and without judgement so that I am able to encourage the participant to go deeper.  The question  last night was sort of ridiculously huge (my judgement based on fear of vulnerability)…it was “what was the biggest change in your life  that has led you to where you are today”. I had 3 or 4 responses come up before I settled on a very nice one. Not the true one, the one that was and has been pressing me for days now, that one was discarded immediately. And not one or two others that felt like they spoke a little too closely to the real me. But a pleasant one, a true but safe one. I guess there was some  vulnerability because I did state that I didn’t feel safe really sharing in this environment because I didn’t know the people, it was the first time I had come to the group, I know I’m a little closed off but…..but then is that vulnerability or slamming a door shut?  I think the answer to that  is pretty obvious. AND, not surprisingly, I think my reticence (I went first in the talking part) shut the other people in my group down a bit, one even said as much.

I knew when I chose the word TRUST it would be difficult.  Only 19 days into January and it’s already kicking my ass.

Why did I choose TRUST? I said in my WOTY post that it scares me, and it does. I am so not vulnerable, so not brave. I have my life nicely compartmentalized;  except for a few very trusted people and long time friends who know pretty much everything, I keep everyone at a distance.  I present well, at least now I do; it wasn’t always so and sobriety has certainly helped. That courage Whyte talks about, to be vulnerable…man, there’s my work.

“how we  become larger and more..”

I so instinctively and immediately understood this quote that it felt almost like a slap to my face, a dare. I have a sweet friend who is constantly pushing me to stop playing so small, to start to dream and to act on those dreams. And I have, there’s been a lot of brave things I have done in this last year in particular that are moving me ahead a little rather than keeping me stuck in a status quo. But  how impossible is that “The only choice we have as we mature…” The ONLY choice. I’m not questioning it; it feels so true, it fucking reeks of truth. But where does that leave me, when I only have one choice?

It leaves me in the same place that a lot of 20-somethings are. Vulnerable, courageous and trusting they hurl  themselves into life, damn the consequences. They make bad choices and good choices and keep going because they have long lives ahead of them and can afford some mistakes.

Guess what? Me too. Take out the long lives ahead of me, as I am “maturing” rapidly, but I really am at a point where I have very little to lose by being fully present, open and vulnerable. If I try something and it doesn’t work out no one will think I’m stupid, they’ll give me props for being so brave to try that “at her age!” (Bless her heart).  I am plenty capable of blowing up relationships, but only the newer ones, the ones that are more tenuous anyway. Unlike a younger person I HAVE my people….anyone new is a bonus.  I’m not afraid of death, mortality is not an issue I struggle with, although, admittedly, aging is. I have some very apparent “intimacy with disappearance”, in more ways than the obvious (definitely a post in that sentence!). But why not go into that aging with compassion for myself and others rather than anger at what I am losing. Why not full bore, balls out ahead. What have I really got to lose?

I’m already on a path with my meditation, my yoga, my interest in a deeper form of spirituality outside the constructs of religion or even god. If I move forward in that intent, then I have nothing to lose, and if I  truly have nothing to lose then why not open, be vulnerable and trusting as I flow into my maturity…my old age (because let’s call a spade a spade here)? Why not embrace my life now as a new place of learning with all the freedom of youth and none of the responsibility ahead of me?

(How many questions am I going to ask in one post? Who am I asking?)

You know, I was also thinking about Dylan Thomas in relation to his famous :
“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

“Old age should burn and rave at close of day”….that line gets left out, right? I see that as a caution against this disappearance, this  gradual diminishment that Whyte is talking about. While I am gaining intimacy with it, I don’t have to capitulate to it. I can become “larger and more courageous and more compassionate”. I’m officially in the later part of my life. I may not look or even really feel it, but there are numbers that tell me it is so, there are realities of life that I cannot hide from. It’s time to man up, to get brave, be courageous, because I can choose to be open and vulnerable or it can be foisted upon me. I still have time to choose MORE.

And that begins with  truth and ends with compassion. The thing is, it has to start with MY truth and end with compassion for MYSELF, with the understanding that this is it, no do-overs. “ Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” (Mary Oliver)

I don’t think I have even touched the surface of this quote and what it means to me.I found it today and tried. I imagine I will be revisiting it a lot, writing more about it. This is enough for now, it’s late and I am ready for sleep.

But I felt the need to be a little vulnerable, at least here.

But that’s kind of a laugh, no? Because I am, except for a few people who actually know me, very anonymous here.  I’m open, I say what I feel and mean, but who am I, really?

But hey, I present well, right?

 

As an added bonus….I am going to be doing a 28 day meditation challenge with Sharon Salzberg. It’s a great way to get your feet wet if you’re new to meditation, and a nice community if you  already have a practice. She is my current “meditation” crush and I am looking forward to the daily commitment. Maybe some of you would like to join me? The info is at :

http://www.sharonsalzberg.com

 

 

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15 Comments

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  1. I’m signed up to meditate! I love your post. It is so… YOU! What an amazing quote. I’m feeling some of this too. My next big decisions are going to be some of my last. Should I buy the tax office? Should I move? I’m fast approaching retirement. Do I rest? Keep pushing? Pretend that I’m not aging? I’m glad you are working this issue. I’m going to learn a lot. You helped me get sober and got me started meditating and self-caring. Can’t wait for the next life adventure! Lori

  2. I loved this post. I am right there with you when it comes to being me vs. the polished ready for public me. I get so sick of the safety net- I can feel it, feel when I’m saying what’s safe rather than what’s me-er. I have just been thinking about how lovely it is to be getting older- it frees me up in a way I was never able to be brave enough to be when I was in my 20’s and 30’s and so worried about what people might think. Here’s to trust. I signed up for the meditation too! Yoga teacher training starts this weekend for me. 🙂 I’m nervous and my first instinct is to quit so I know it’s the thing I should be doing lol. Much love!

    • I’m s jealous!
      It’s just that I know you are going to have the best time…hard, challenging, intense and hopefully as wonderful as mine was. There’s another class starting tomorrow here too and I want to do it again!
      It’s interesting how we think well, we’re older, we should be able to say what we want, etc…allowing that to come is hard.
      I’m working on it!
      think the meditation thing is going to be great…i’ve been flipping through her book and it’s very straightforward and helpful.
      See you on the (virtual) mat!
      And keep writing about TT…can’t wait to hear!
      xo

  3. I feel your words in my gut. In fact, it’s difficult to keep the emotions you’ve invoked at bay right now. That’s what a good writer does, right? You shared the essence of your life, and I was able to apply to mine.
    You are brave, and awesome and I want to be just like you when I grow up. And, even if I grow up, I don’t want to grow old. I’m heading toward a “big” birthday this year, and I don’t like it at all. Not one f-ing bit.
    This sentence stopped me in my boots: “I’m officially in the later part of my life. I may not look or even really feel it, but there are numbers that tell me it is so, there are realities of life that I cannot hide from. ” yep. I hear you.
    You are far from invisible and the best kind of brave and courageous – the kind that inspires and makes a person want to do it, too. And trusting? Hey – you accepted my request to follow you on Instagram – I don’t take that lightly, you know?
    The Meditation Challenge? I’m signing up, even though it’ll be outside my comfort zone (I’m a terrible meditator) – but, if you’re gonna be brave and vulnerable…well, then I’m gonna try, too. xo

    • Meditation is the easiest and hardest thing in the world.
      Hard to sit down and do it, easy when you get there and realize that 5 minutes counts and 2 seconds without the monkey mind chattering is a HUGE win!
      Just go in with an open mind….and see what happens.
      I’ve got an “invisible” post in me, LOL….but it’s all whiny. *sigh*
      thanks for all of your support, always.
      xoxooxooxooxooxoxooxooxoxoxooxoxoxoxoxo

  4. What a great post. I, too, have been feeling the disappearance approaching. Maybe it’s the big birthday this year, the prospect of owning up to being a “senior” when my mind doesn’t want to accept it. I have that Oliver quote on my fridge, time to take it seriously. Good job, Mish, good job.
    Sharon

    • thanks sharon…
      “senior”…
      jesus!
      my mantra “aging gracefully with health and contentment”…
      and yes, Mary says that well…
      we only get one so let’s live it, right?
      Maybe I’ll take up skateboarding?
      xo

  5. Thanks so much for this link. I have been struck with a lot of grief lately (4 funerals so far in January, and it’s only the 20th), and it’s starting to bog me down, as if my brain is working slower, or something. And I keep saying to myself, get back to meditation, but with the slow brain thing, it’s been hard to even try. This is just the kick in the pants I need! I also really like the concept of “inhabiting maturity.” Because the truth this, we are blessed with it, not cursed, certainly learning this from all my funerals. Thanks for a great start to my day!

  6. Wonderful post, thank you. I wonder whether you have come across Richard Rohr? Apologies if he is someone I am reading due to a recommendation of yours 😉

    His book Falling Upwards is one that I find hugely challenging in this regard. He distinguishes between the first and second halves of our spiritual lives, which requires a ‘falling into something much bigger and deeper than ourselves’. You might find it interesting, I think? wishing you well and good to read your thoughts! Prim xx

  7. As I am 62 this year, I struggle with getting older.
    So this post was perfect for me.
    I loved these quotes.
    There is a lot for me to think about here!!!
    xo
    Wendy

    • we have a LOT in common Wendy…..

      I’m gonna have to start writing about some of these issues, and I will, but there;s that trust thing!
      damn, why did I choose that word!!!!!

      xo

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