Seeking My Best Self

trying to make sense of my life – and lose some weight

An Inverted Turtle

situ and kidsI’ve loved my sojourn in Gettysburg and Madison. Caring for my bright, determined grandchildren. Discussing theology, listening and being with my daughter as she walks the path of the pastor-to-be. Basking in the energy and enthusiasm of my son-in-law. Immersing myself in passionate intellectual converation with my son and his friends. Learning new ways of being church in the twenty-first century. Ballgames! And so much more.

After three weeks, it’s time to return home. Or perhaps I should say it’s time return to another home, because a piece of my home is wherever my children and grandchildren live. Truth is, I’ve realized that home isn’t a place external. I am an inverted turtle, carrying my home not on my back but in my heart. Home is with all I love, including me.

That means the more of the world I can embrace, the larger my home becomes. Without monetary exchange or land title. Could that be the key to solving the world’s strife? If we take more time to love, we’ll feel less need to possess, because we’ll already be home.

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join me, and the world will be as one….”   –  John Lennon.

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Fifteen Inches Deep in White Stuff

_DSF7560We haven’t seen the ground for almost a week. It’s buried beneath fifteen inches of white stuff. That doesn’t sound remarkable to those who live in many parts of the world, but here in the Willamette Valley, we can go for years without seeing any snow accumulation at all, so a foot of it brings our lives to a screeching halt.

I spent three days inside, working on wedding albums, reading books, playing games, talking on the phone with my kids and my mom…and going absolute starkers. I ventured into the snow each day *for fun*, but I have to be honest. I’m not a fan of the stuff. It’s cold, it’s wet, and it gets into my boots and my clothes when I walk or sled or…

Yesterday, the main roads were clear, though our LONG driveway was still treacherous. So we walked two miles into town. We’d intended to take the footpath that starts a quarter mile from our driveway, but when we got there, we realized it was not clear. So we walked along Highway 99W, sharing pavement with cars and semis. It would have been terrifying if everyone wasn’t going so slow. They were more afraid of us than vice versa, moving well into the oncoming lane to avoid any chance of disastrous slippage.

A two mile hike in the sun and the snow did wonders for my outlook. Walking fuels my desire for adventure.  I daydreamed about a road trip to St. Louis to visit my youngest son, a plane trip to New York to visit my oldest (and Yankee Stadium,) a trip to Gettysburg, where my daughter and family may be this fall. Then I made a mental list of the items I need to walk parts of the Pacific Crest and Appalachian trails. (PCT and AT, for those *in the know*.) I wondered if I should add the CDT to my list. Even a few miles on it, and I could claim the triple crown of hiking. I thought of Iona, that holy thin place in the Scottish Highlands that whispers for my return…

By the time we reached the studio, I was ready to settle down to an afternoon’s work. Fog descended with evening’s dark, so we arranged a ride home with friends.

This morning, temperatures have moderated and it’s raining. Silly Pacific Northwesterner that I am, I was shocked to wake up to a still white world. Turns out, it will take days for our liquid sunshine to melt the snow. But my head is no longer fifteen inches deep in white stuff – I’ve cleared the cotton that clouded my mind. I’m ready to travel. Come on, Spring!

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Travel Light, Travel Far

I’ve finished my first adulthood, and I’m ready for the second. You see, I think the years from our mid-twenties to our mid-fifties are just a practice round, where we learn the game, become familiar with the equipment and master the rules. After that we’re ready to play like pros, now that we have the maturity and experience necessary to really smack the ball.

Why, then, does society act as if later life are the years of decline rather than ascendancy? Why are we encouraged to become cautious RIGHT when we should be fearless? I really like what Anne Morrow Lindbergh has to say about mid-life. In her book, Gift from the Sea, she says,

“The signs that presage <second adulthood> are so similar, it seems to me, to those in early adolescence: discontent, restlessness, doubt, despair, longing. But now these are interpreted falsely as signs of decay.”

In other words, the exact same symptoms that we understand as signals of growth the first time around, we misinterpret as decline and impending death the next. Instead of looking forward to our second awakening, we run from it, choosing to become static displays rather than seeing how far we can fly.

My motto for this second era is: travel light, travel far. It’s the time to declutter, to empty my home (and my mind) of that which is useless or merely ornamental.  I don’t need possessions or arcane knowledge to prove my worth. Besides, at best they are the measure of a past self, not the person in the present mirror.

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