Monday, August 20, 2012

Open or Closed?

It's been my observation over the years that people do one of two things as they age, they either relax and become more open to new people and experiences, or they grow ever more fearful of change, narrow-minded and set in their ways.

We've led a gypsy's existence for all of our 47 years together. I think this last move was our 36th, and as a child I attended 16 different elementary schools. Moving was always an adventure, a new beginning waiting just over the horizon. So I was astonished and appalled when this last move unsettled me and left me depressed and heartsick. I've never in my life suffered from depression before.

Yes, we left a beautiful location where we only had to step outside the door to be in the heart of nature, yes we left friends we had come to love, and I loved our little RV, but we have a lovely and much more comfortable and convenient home here. We have our paintings and books and treasured pieces of heirloom furniture - but it still doesn't feel like "home", and I don't know why.

Or perhaps I do. Somewhere between that move in early 2008 and the one in 2011 my adaptability clock crossed that line into age. The "open up" or "close down" clock kicked in, and left me a bit at sea as to what to do about it.

It's a challenge to work with (and resist) this pull toward negativity. Oddly enough this feeling of displacement in the condo is the only place where I'm experiencing it. I love living in this end of town, where probably 75% of the people are immigrants and we are surrounded by people of colour, other religions and other cultures. It's vibrant and vital and makes me feel as if the world itself was at my doorstep.

At the same time I'm having wonderful conversations with our sons, who are both going through periods of exponential growth. What joy it is to see your children grow in their awareness of the world around them, and realizing their potential for good. They are so different in personality from me. Both are blessed with their father's gentle temperament. Both have such wisdom and are far more skillful at dealing with others than I have ever been.

The body ages. Despite advertising to the contrary I will never look (or feel) 22 (or even 62) again. I have annoying periods of aphasia, when I can't recall the exact word I want to use. I may not be able to fight these off. But I will not secede to the "old, narrow-minded and set-in-her-ways" demon. Whatever incantation it takes to ward off that particular evil spirit will become my mantra.

Man stands in his own shadow

and wonders why it is dark.

~ Zen Proverb

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