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I’m Getting Too Old for This – Part 2

December 11, 2012

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Continued from the previous post. 

Here is the truth about me, as I’ve gotten older:

I’m a little meaner, for sure.

I’ve also become more introverted, and prefer to spend time alone or with my family rather than being with people all the time.

Also, I am much more skeptical – about matters of faith, about people’s motives, about believing  anyone who clings too tightly to their claims on truth.

I’m not so shocked and disappointed by the sins of humanity. We’re all broken, and we’re all forgiven. End of story.

I am much more accepting of what some great authors have called the “shadow” side of myself, riding those monsters all the way down, rather than running away from them. As Parker Palmer puts it, “There is no way out of my inner life, so I better get into it.”

Darkness, and all. The only way out, is through. Besides, I highly doubt God is surprised by these things. I sometimes wonder if he does anything more than roll his eyes in response to the majority of our shame and self-loathing.

“You screwed up – so what?” I can hear him say in frustration, as he gets up to go check on another, more promising, universe. “Can’t you people just forgive yourselves and get on with your lives?”

You may read this and think my soul is deteriorating. On the contrary. I believe these are healthy signs of life, of soul-development, of becoming more connected, more reflective, reaching out beyond the limits and constraints of one’s small world.

For instance, I’ve become much more expansive in many ways. I have a greater sense of mystery and awe. I have become settled with the not-knowing, with the ambiguity of paradox, accepting the limits and the liberation it brings. I appreciate beauty more than I have ever before, and find myself literally shouting for joy at a sunset, or a mountainous landscape, in beholding the perfect formation of a leaf on a tree, or taking that first sip of coffee in the morning.

I have discovered that God is much, much grander and all-encompassing than the egocentric version I had developed in early adulthood.

There are things we gain and there are things we lose on the journey of growing older, I suppose. But what choice do we have? It’s not like time knocks quietly on the door and asks for permission to come in. No, it barges in and sets up house, so you better make friends with it.

The other day my mother observed that, at the heart, I am exactly the same person now, at age 52, as when I was four years old. I agreed. So I guess I haven’t changed so much after all. Perhaps we are all only growing in circles, orbiting our souls, ultimately coming back around to who we really are, who we always were.

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. December 11, 2012 10:19 am

    It is interesting how we go in these circles. I think back through my life and how I was so different – yet so much the same – as a teenager, college student, young married man, and now a young-ish parent. It also seems that the things I used to care so strongly about now seem silly in retrospect. I think it’ll be funny to see how I continue to change throughout the years.

  2. December 11, 2012 1:53 pm

    “Can’t you people just forgive yourselves snd get on with your lives?”–I love this. And some days I get it.

  3. December 11, 2012 5:05 pm

    it amazes me that we would even think that there beautiful parts and the ugly parts of a thing. though that is how i judge things. i think that each thing of earth has both beauty and ugliness…as well as other things.

    • December 13, 2012 6:09 am

      Yes, isn’t that an entirely new way to view things, including ourselves and our lives? Both the light and the darkness all working together somehow to form something greater than we know.

  4. Steve permalink
    December 11, 2012 9:05 pm

    Having become a crusty old badger myself I am strangely comforted by this. Looking forward to part III where you solve all this introspective turmoil!

    • December 13, 2012 6:10 am

      Steve, welcome to the crusty old badger club. 🙂
      No, there will be no part III – this was enough introspective self-indulgence. Time to get on with things.

  5. December 11, 2012 10:57 pm

    It is through the bad and the ugly that we are able to appreciate the good and the beauty. We become less focused on answers and more comfortable with the questions – at 52.

  6. December 12, 2012 10:58 am

    That comfort with ambiguity is an interesting observation. There are some things I’ll never know, and that’s okay. Mystery is a shirt I like to wear.

  7. December 16, 2012 10:39 pm

    I too have more mystery and awe. That’s a good thing this time of year. I’m also meaner (a bad thing) — and I am 10 years your junior, so I hope I’m not REALLY mean in 10 years.

  8. spaghettipie permalink
    December 17, 2012 2:31 pm

    In my life, I tend to revisit the same issues over and over. One day when I was frustrated about it, a friend compared it to going up a mountain. Even though you keep circling around to the same physical view, hopefully your perspective changes each time.

    I think the same idea sort of applies here…

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