Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Striving

Next month I'll turn 49. In 13 short months, I'll be 50. Fifty is fine with me. Fifty is not scary. Fifty is even welcome. The thing about it is, when I was growing up I had an image of myself at 50, all "grown up," and now that it's almost here, I am coming to terms with what is and is not accurate with that image.

50-year-old Carrie would have a library in her house, one with the built-in ladder, four walls of nothing but books and a comfy chair. 50-year-old Carrie would have a music room with a grand piano, and she and her musically gifted children would all play it beautifully. 50-year-old Carrie would have "real" furniture - not just a mattress and box springs, but a proper bed. There would be matching night stands and dressers, a short one for my husband and a taller one for me. I'd have an office with a desk, credenza, doors that close and all kinds of really amazing things would come out of that room. I'd probably have my Ph.D in teaching, and be teaching teachers how to teach children - especially exceptional learners. I'd have traveled extensively, my passport having been stamped from all kinds of exotics lands. I'd have learned to cook, bought real art and had it properly framed, I'd have crystal and know how to pick out a bottle of wine.

48-year-old almost 49-year-old Carrie is realizing, if she doesn't have it by now, hasn't done it by now, hasn't been there by now, she probably never will. It's not like I won't ever travel or learn something new, I might, but then again, I might not, and that's okay. I finally realized that what is gone is not the dream, but the striving.  I simply don't want to strive any more - not for things, not for adventure, not for accomplishments.

At almost 50 I want less, not more. Less stuff. Less acquaintances. Less high-maintenance relationships. Less drama. Less obligations. Less busyness. Less involvements with things that aren't important to me. I'm all done forcing things. In fact, that reminds me of a Toeless Terry story - she had a friend going through a divorce, and she asked him why. He said, "The woman forced flowers to bloom." I've never forgotten that (and I'm fairly sure there were bigger troubles in the marriage than forced flowers, but it does beg the question, what is the point in forcing things?).

So, I don't consider it being resigned, giving up, quitting, being lazy, any of that. I consider it being content with what I have. Letting things happen. Allowing. Accepting. Being grateful for what is, and not with my eyes on the horizon for what might be.


* Photo from http://www.sitepoint.com

10 comments:

Kathi said...

Carrie, your post meant a lot to me. I needed to hear this. I am at a similar juncture in my life. This was perfect for me to hear. Love your writing. Hugs.

Cheryl said...

Exactly. Absolutely. Amen. For me, at 52, I'm so over the striving. Now, life isn't about doing, but about undoing, letting go of all of that "stuff," material and otherwise.

fullsoulahead.com said...

This might be my favorite Carrie post ever.

I adore 48-year-old almost 49-year-old Carrie.

Elizabeth said...

I once read a really funny thing about making a list of things that you will NEVER do when you turn fifty -- letting you off the hook, let's say. Except for that library with the ladder, I'm with you (meaning I still want one!). I'm turning fifty in 2013, would love to go to Scotland and Ireland and see all my favorite writers' and poets' graves, but that's it.

Susan said...

This resonates with a Buddist principle- not self-grasping. Carrie I feel you are richer today by your realization.

kario said...

Hallelujah-Amen!

I love it when we're on the same wavelength. We are contemplating a move this summer and I can't wait to have a smaller house with less yard and I've been purging stuff from every room for months now. Whoopee! It feels so much lighter!

When I look back at what I thought I wanted for older me I don't even recognize half the stuff as desirable in the slightest. Here's to growing up!

Love you.

Amber said...

Um,I'm going to be 40 next year, and I already sorta feel this way... Is that good or bad, do you think?

I do think, though, that perhaps things become more focused when you let "everything that would be cool or nice" go. Like, Louise Hay started her publishing company in her 60's-- but would she have if she was still distracted by every idea that came along?

This is all fine and good, but I better not be on your 'get rid of' list, lady. All the other bishes, fine. But not me. ;)

oxox :)

Galen Pearl said...

I'll be 60 in a few days, so I'm a decade further down the road. From my perspective looking back, I can predict that you are setting yourself up for a very joyful and content and fulfilling and satisfying next stage of your life. Stopping the striving was a brilliant image, and you described it so eloquently.

Marge said...

AMEN!!!!!

terry said...

How did toeless miss this perfect blog? Hard to believe. And not enough can be made for easing gently away from the "force"!