by: MEL GREENBERG
So, I’ve been thinking… about the “V” word. A lot! Vulnerability. My vulnerability in particular. It came to light on a drive in Southern California the last week of June 2020 – on a stretch of PCH I’d driventhousands of times over my lifetime. It was, however, the first time I’d ventured out of my secluded corner of the world since an unknown virus changed our lives just a few months earlier. I was alone, I was afraid, and I couldn’t pinpoint exactly why. This was foreign territory to me in just about every way.
I wondered, was it a perspective that only comes with the passage of time, this wisdom we’re told we gain from aging? Maybe. The experiences we live through inevitably test, and teach us, there are no shortcuts. But this deeper understanding has a price. And what became clear on that sun drenched summer day in 2020 was that I was now abundantly aware of the impact of the rear-view mirror. So much more of my life was visible there than in front of me. And there it was…
How do we move forward with wisdom rather than fear, believing that our best days may well be behind us?
It’s not cliché, that every day is a gift. The clarity that notion brings is what gave birth to the sweeping vulnerability I was feeling. What I hadn’t figured in, until quite recently was the overwhelming impact of timing. I had turned 60 a few months before, anticipating the exciting new decade ahead in the most positive ways. Then oh, so subtly the changes crept in. The what ifs? The what now’s? But here’s the caveat – I hadn’t acknowledged the sweeping changes in the world at large. Everything I knew, had believed in was in question. And every sense of comfort I’d ever know was gone. I felt completely out of control of my own destiny, my security was as intangible as the origins of the virus itself. And to the extent that we are ever really in control, to believe that you have no say in, your future well, that’s a horrifying realization.
Amid the unprecedented circumstances surrounding us all, my emotional vulnerability settled in subtly. Such ominous concerns had never mattered much. I’d made it up and down so many hills over the previous decades, no challenge too big, no success too valuable or unappreciated. Oh, but they matter now! It matters now – all of it. And I don’t want any of it to slip away too quickly – before I’m ready.
Studies show… conversations with my peers reflect… this shift is not unique or without further explanation. As we age, we process stress differently and the stress of the past two years has taken its toll on all of us. We worry not only for ourselves, but our families, the planet, humanity. When I began to consider this new reality, while my vulnerability was still ever-present, the big picture came into focus. If I prioritize my strengths, my dreams, the future was not so daunting. And that was a pivotal moment.
Wisdom does in fact come with age!
Well, at least the way we process it all. And, ironically, it is the fact that we see and deeply appreciate our limitations. Our time is not expansive, without end so much as we view it in our youth. Thus, our priorities and the significance we place on events and goals change. We tend to approach living with a calmer, more adaptable resolve. All good when the world we live in seems headed straight to hell in a hand basket. Our circle, if you will, gets smaller, allowing us to use our energy in a more positive, more efficient manner.
The old adage: Aging with grace, has become somewhat of a mantra for me. And so, as I meander along this wildly unpredictable journey, I will strive to remember that I can only do what I can do.
I’m good with that…
What say you?