Sunday, September 23, 2007

Maturity

I wrote this some time ago. I've edited it only slightly, leaving out all the continuing internal changes within me that have occurred since. Still, the bulk of these words hold true.
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It’s easy to be a little or a lot defensive about getting older because increasing age bubbles up any combination of real or imagined insecurities,vulnerabilities, reductions in dreams, agility, or power. These things may be true or not—I really can’t tell you yet. Currently I’m into unknown and unsteady ground after a few medical breakdowns like I’ve never had before and a soft but definite edge that makes me aware of my age. In the last year I’ve noticed that I sometimes feel less comfortable around 30 year olds than 60 year olds, but that’s not entirely true either. I also notice that in general I tend to feel more myself, less likely to jump at offense, and more hopeful and earnest about my plans and life ahead.
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When I was 30, I believed I could achieve anything—anything—I wanted, short of a career in brain surgery. Then I had not yet had my heart truly broken apart, or fully known what it means to love a daughter so much you would chase a bullet down for her. I had not witnessed my precious business rising and falling and rising again, leaving me with special skills and certain experience that has served me well every day of my life. Then my energy and confidence pushed my creavity and drive. I was prominent in my field, charmingly likeable, and I combined that with articulate passion and practiced humility that kept me at the top of my game. My game? Odd language for a congruent life, but I didn’t know that.
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Then I also drank too much and didn’t know when I was or wasn’t truly present. Not like I know now. Today, if I sit across from you, I will make a full effort to be with you 100%. And if I don’t have that to give, I will more often than not elect to simply do what I can do, not trying to fool you into believing otherwise, accepting that about myself instead of judging or feeling deficit.
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For large chunks of my life, I’ve been ambivalent. When you’re not sure where you want to head, or are heading, or whether you even deserve to head anywhere, you can fall short simply because you don’t know what better or best is. By most standards I have been very fortunate. In life and in work, I’ve been treated by others with kindness and high regard. My opinion has usually mattered, and I’ve been able to operate as a maverick and innovator in some very stoggy environments.
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I’ve worked hard at being a good parent, rarely failing to point out that flowers can dance, money skills are underrated, and honesty and tears make you stronger in the broken places (thank you Ernest Hemingway). I look at my daughter and think about the son she will raise and I am 100% confident that these are people who will heal, not hurt, the world they live in.
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I know it means something to be older, but I can’t tell you what. I don’t like thinking I will only have 30 or so springs left—if I’m lucky—and I don’t like feeling like a physical train wreck recovering from back surgery. But---I know I’m a pretty good person. Honest to God. When I find myself judging anything or everything, I wonder if I’m falling short, but when I’m just here with my hopes and home, I see that I’m choosing kindness, trying to write, and avoiding confrontation so much more than ever before. I’m trusting in every way that I’ll be ok, and I’m balancing some time to stop and do whatever in the hope of resurfacing replenished, fresh, open. .

There are people of all ages in my life and I like that. My friends tend to be abit younger than I but still beginning the second half of life. Jessica is 29 and jb and I really like when we spend time with her friends. They seem to have the same genuine interest in us that we have in them. And some of the incredible writers and artists I’ve worked with, and talents and folks on the blogs are in their late 20’s/early 30’s . I don’t communicate with the same swagger I would if I were closer to their age. I don’t know if that’s because it’s not who I am now, or if it’s because they do not accord me the same status. In Oprah last month—the only time I have read her magazine in probably 5 years, someone said “When you’re young you learn. When you’re older, you understand”. I understand that….

I am secure ways that eluded me in my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. . I don’t have a lot of friends: one uniquely special soulmate and maybe 4 or 5 others that I would/could/hope I would/could turn to if/when it all fell apart. But the friends I have I trust. I have jb. And I have Jess. I’ve learned to love beyond my ego’s pushiness. I don’t see myself ever purposely or consciously doing anything that would hurt someone else, often I don’t struggle to put myself first, and I’m amazed at how easy that choice has become. I’m a better person for it.. The more practice I get at being kind, the more I’m learning how to live with less effort and more zeal.
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My thoughts today: "Not bad for a woman still quietly confused, still overtaken by love, and still showing up".

22 comments:

  1. ;-) ... that was very honest KJ and I can relate on several levels. I look at age as just a number, one that society puts too much emphasis on, but there's no getting around life's lessons (thank goodness on most counts!)

    I love the line you signed off with at the end ...My thoughts today...

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  2. KJ, you are indeed a kind person. You are also a very fascinating and interesting woman. I have seen you with your friends and the pleasure of being in your presence is so obvious. I think you will remain like that even in your nineties.

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  3. "Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen."
    -Mark Twain-

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  4. I really enjoyed this post KJ and feel ... relaxed :)

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  5. I'm with Mark Twain on aging.

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  6. bibi, i love your comments. thank you.

    ces, you have seen me with my friends? well of course, whenever i am in your presence i am with my friends!

    sidney, ah, to live backwards. that makes total sense to me!

    thank you, anon. :)

    ces, i'm with jody foster. :)

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  7. Jodi Foster is overrated in her new movie though she ages well. Meryl Streep and even the uncontrolled effing talking Sally Field age better.

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  8. i loved this post, kj...and perhaps i don't say it often enough, but i value your perspective on things very much...
    ~ruby

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  9. Thank you for that well thought out, kind hearted, and heart felt post. Parts of it certainly resonate with me. Other parts highlight what's lacking in my life, and I am glad to hear that you are grateful for those things with which you are blessed.

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  10. a great read kj! smooth, seamless, meaningful

    and demonstrates in my humble view writing's greatest reward: process

    capturing the very process of transitioning, graduating, from one soul state to another.

    reflect and grow and live and reach

    always, the painful, awkward, emotions are better than indifference or apathy or numbness

    and the successes and passions -worth celebrating

    remembering. and celebrating again.

    "cheers to wisdom!"

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  11. So so honest and so much to think about. I'm not used to that so I'll go off and do it now.

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  12. We spend half our lives looking for the answer, only to realize the answer is that we just don't know???? At least that's where I'm at now-I'm hoping for some deeper meaning to come fill in the empty spaces I've created by throwing out what I thought I knew.

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  13. ces, i'd take jodi foster over meryl or sally

    ruby, that means alot coming from you. i feel the same way.

    rm, i remember so well when i finally accepted myself and my life and decided to enjoy myself period. just after that i met jb. i think providence kicks in at times like that. (ps you are a terrific person!)

    thank you she. i think about reality more than process these days, but i know what you mean!

    andrea, i'm TOO honest for my own good! i'm TOO alot of things! but thanks as always for your support.

    debra kay, welcome and thank you for your comments. i like the way you've expressed this!

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  14. This is beautiful and honestly vulnerable. Wow.

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  15. designingfairy: thank you. so nice of you to visit. i often sneak wonderful peeks at your blog

    jeez! thank you all for your comments. so i wrote a vulnerable piece about myself huh?! it reminds me of this quote from poet billy collins:

    "i think clarity is the real risk in poetry because you are exposed. You're out there in the open field. You're actually saying things that are comprehensible and it's easy to criticize something you can understand"

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  16. "And if I don’t have that to give, I will more often than not elect to simply do what I can do, not trying to fool you into believing otherwise, accepting that about myself instead of judging or feeling deficit."

    Yes. That is what I strive for.

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  17. Thank you so much for sharing this very personal information.
    I often feel sad about getting older. I'm 16 years younger than you are, but I'm beginning to feel the downside of my age. I don't want to give in to this, but certain limitations force me to become concious of the fact that 30 is 14 years behind me. I'm having a terrible time trying to enjoy sport. I've had to quit badminton and I'm trying to jog now, but that is not going very well. The knee again, I'm afraid. I feel too young to be doing nothing as far as fysical exercise goes. I used to get around with a mere 4 hours of sleep, today I practically die when I get a few nights of nearly 4 hours of sleep.
    Professionally I should be doing better, because I have more experience. I don't really think I am doing better than 10 years ago. Need to think about that.
    Only the sex gets better. Now that is a good thing, and yet we all know that sex is such a trivial thing. And with men, of course, the fact that you achieve better control as you get older only means you are getting closer to the end of the line. Not that that really worries me, I'm still enjoying sex, and what will come will come. As I said: it is a trivial thing, there are more ways to enjoy yourself than just the "act", the "deed", "doing it".
    Am I making any sense?
    Not likely.
    But then what did you expect from a middle aged man?

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  18. liz, yeah.....

    peter! first: "the sex"! i don't think that's a trivial thing at all. i consider it one of god's most fabulous inventions. let us both enjoy ourselves in this area without a worry!

    as for getting older, mid forties: that is not really 'old'. what you have lost in physical agility you have gained in wisdom. and you're "softer in the broken places". i went through a period about your age of being disappointed with myself, why wasn't i famous or rich or whatever? but really, you love your wife and kids, you are talented and vibrant, your heart is kind, and you are a good friend. you can still push your body to its maximum, whatever that is. isn't that sufficient, my good friend?

    :)

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  19. You are right, of course, KJ, but a lot of people seem to overrate sex, as if it is the most important thing in the world.
    Love, friendship, health, basic needs are more important.
    There are advantages to my age, I admit. I'm a much better father than when I was 30. I'm sure I'm a much better husband in a certain way. And I think that I'm a better people manager as well.
    But I'm never satisfied, I guess that will never change, I want to get even better still.
    When will this stop?
    When will I be pleased?
    Am I killing myself by never being satisfied, never having enough?
    Questions, questions...

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  20. pieterbie, i have the ANSWER! i'll tell you when i can say it in ten words or less!

    :)

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  21. That is another thing I'm not satisfied with: I find it so hard to make a point in 10 words or less. But then thinking about that...
    Someting I said to our director of corporate audit this morning: 'When Pigs Fly'.
    That is less than 10 words.
    I hope he understood that, I said it in English and he speaks French.
    I can translate that in to French, but it misses the point then.
    The ICT security manager was sitting next to the director of corporate audit, he couldn't mask his amusement.
    Being a corporate asskicker can be tremendous fun from time to time.
    But not all the time.

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