Paul Simon, one of the great songwriters and singers of my generation, is letting go. In an article in the New York Times yesterday he said “It’s an act of courage to let go. I am going to see what happens if I let go. Then I’m going to see, who am I? Or am I just this person that was defined by what I did? And if that’s gone, if you have to make up yourself, who are you?”
"Maybe," he said, "such inquiries are a waste."
This has been a month of dramatic events and effects of personal, internal changes. I have used up whatever energy an active 72 year-old can use almost every day. Just a few external changes include my first ever involvement in a law suit (I had really hoped to get through my life without even one), modeling for a women's clothing store where I work part-time, and improving my stamina by increasing the time I exercise. I am also spending concentrated time with a precious friend who is in the last stage of her life.
I have known for perhaps a year or more that I wanted to make significant changes to this website. I have known that I have less and less energy for teaching and consulting in the workplace using positive methods, and more energy using those same methods as they apply to the social and intellectual interactions with my own aging friends. Those website changes have begun to happen. They are a result of my deciding to let go of a former self and embrace who I am now. In instituting these changes, I am also learning to edit the site. I'm teaching my old brain new tricks!
One of my most valued colleagues approached me this week to coach a client of hers, a client in what she describes as in her third age. I am flattered and excited. In exchange for this coaching I provide (and I expect to learn as much from this client as I explore with her), this valued colleague will coach me. What a gift!
I have not begun this next phase of my life without fear. The fact that it has taken me over a year to change the website is an indication of my fear of letting go of the professional me. In doing so, I feel increasing excitement about embracing the social and intellectual me. Come along if you're up for learning more about what is our final ride!
From a very recent electronic article in The New Yorker about resilience http://www.newyorker.com/science/maria-konnikova/the-secret-formula-for-resilience, there is this caution, "Frame adversity as a challenge, and you become more flexible and able to deal with it, move on, learn from it, and grow. Focus on it, frame it as a threat, and a potentially traumatic event becomes an enduring problem; you become more inflexible, and more likely to be negatively affected."
As I firmly enter my seventies, my younger superwoman vision of myself changes. I believe in my own mortality, where earlier it was just an idea. I have brushed up against serious illness. I have known adversity. And my initial response was to become more fearful rather than more flexible and curious, even though I have these skills from my coaching and theorizing life in Appreciative Inquiry.
I want to renew my own curiosity and to relearn resilience as an older person. I want to face what is now and what is next with equanimity and anticipation. I have found initial resources I will share with you and I invite you to join me on the path to Appreciative Aging.
My day, week, month
to "feel" full.
Not so much that,
at its end,
I am spent, hungry, used up--
to cook my dinner
while I stare into the fire
martini in hand.
this time thing.
Too much activity, even dancing or
puts me into catatonia.
Yet boredom too
a whole day with even a great book
is just too much silence and sitting for me.
I need to clean the attic,
do a load of laundry
look at Facebook.
So I strive for busyness
but just enough.
A long swim,
lunch with a friend,
a writing group,
then peeling carrots for cassoulet.