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."
Such inquiries are critical, in my mind. When we have been defined by what we've done for most of our lives, stepping off the "doing" track onto--what?--the unknown, does take courage. It takes courage even when we know we don't want to keep doing what we've done for so long. It takes courage to live in the desert of uncertainty for some period of time. Who am I if I'm not who I was? For most of us that is an unanswerable question, at least for awhile. I am coming to know the answer after almost three years of searching and finding, rejecting and enjoying new things I've tried, and amplifying some things I didn't have time for when I was always doing. My brother Nick seems to have had an easier time. But he had a sailboat he loved and loves, a wife willing to share whatever adventure he chose and a real interest in woodworking. He had no trouble (seemingly) transitioning from new business development person to sailor, traveler, woodworker, and family man. While I thought my own transition would be just as easy, it has not been. Still, I give myself credit for being willing to live in my desert, trying new things and finding a balance of being and doing in my older age.