A few weeks ago, some colleagues, of various ages, were discussing the seasons of life. One commented that if life expectancy were graphed, she was astounded to find herself about two thirds of the way to the finish and in what some call the “winter” of her life. She remarked that her younger colleague was just finishing “spring” and entering the “summer” of her life.
It struck me as a pretty presumptuous way to think of one’s life and the amount of time one has left to live it, especially since, in this age of distracted drivers, mutant strains of drug-resistant viruses and handgun-toting maniacs none of us knows exactly how much time we have left.
I remember talking to the man who is now my husband when I was in my mid-forties. He asked me if I had considered what I was going to do with the second half of my life. Given that the women in my family live well into their nineties, I hadn’t even considered myself to be at my life’s midpoint yet and smart-assed him that I’d “let him know when I got there.”
But now I have successfully managed to live into my sixties and things are changing in ways I never anticipated. My memory has become unreliable and in some cases treacherously betrays me. And my body, which has historically been strong and capable now tires a lot more easily and has developed some aches that portend to be chronic even as I try to ignore them out of existence.
The upside of all of this is that there is no more need for speed. We are no longer bent on getting somewhere at a certain time; we are relaxing into the beauty of the moments that string together to end up being called a journey. We are slowing down and are finding a joy and wonder in our new found stealth mode of being.
We have traded a fast boat for an aged and stately boat, which magically and reliably draws dolphins to ride her bow wave. She allows us to remain eye-level, on the wingtips of pelicans in flight as she propels us sedately forward.
We have traded 12 speed racers for collapsible bikes with 12 inch wheels. The pace is commensurately slower and has allowed us to witness deer jumping the fence in front of us and remaining at the sides of the trail, unfazed by our quiet presence as they alternately forage and keep watch for the faster bikes that send them flying for cover.
We have watched an eagle fight to bring a tangle of Spanish moss larger than himself back to his nest in an impossible sequence of problem solving steps until he finally defied gravity by shear will and muscled himself and his burden in ever ascending spirals towards his beloved. Just when we thought he would fall victim to gravity’s relentless pull, he mustered enough inner fortitude for one last beat of his mighty wings, and collapsed over the edge and into his nest, his present for his waiting mate secure. We let out the breath that we hadn’t known we were holding in sympathetic effort for his struggle and cheered for him and his success. Remounting our bikes, we congratulated ourselves for witnessing something that, had we been on faster bikes, we would have missed.
And so, we gratefully enter this new season of our lives. Not fall or even winter but the season of slow. A season so pregnant with possibilities that we can hardly even imagine what this next year will bring but we anticipate it the way that children anticipate birthdays and Christmas.
Photo Credit: Leland Sandberg