Being 65

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In one sense, this post should just be entitled ‘Being’, because age is irrelevant.

I interact with the world essentially as a being, and don’t need a label.

On the other hand, I do have history, and the ways that I have worked through that history impact on the way that I interact with the world – and other beings in it – on a daily basis.

It isn’t always easy to put the past behind us, especially when heavily loaded with emotions associated with trauma and grief.

Accepting things that I cannot change has been a hard life lesson to learn for me, helped by meditation, affirmations, and Buddhist teachings (including one in particular by Gen Togden of the Kadampa tradition).

Not having had children is a major regret. Raising this as an issue with a therapist recently, still needing to work it through, I was met with a profoundly uncompassionate response: “So you decided not to have them then, did you?”

At one level, she was right. I made choices – decisions – that led to me being in a state of extreme mental and emotional turmoil in my late 30s and 40s. Decisions that I made as a struggling, vulnerable young woman in my 20s were mine, and I was an adult. But should I really have had to pay such a high price in later life?

Shit does happen though, and doesn’t discriminate. Thankfully, I have had previous experiences with other counsellors/therapists who’ve approached my distress with humanity and empathy.

Even so, some things take a long time to work through. Some ‘stuff’ from the past has just come up that I thought I’d put behind me, or at least wanted to. It doesn’t always work like that though, and I’m sure my brain dredged it up now because I hadn’t properly dealt with it previously.

Now I’m in a much better place than I have ever been before, living with a kind, loving, supportive, funny partner. Being 65 is a starting point for me, and it’s never too late.

If I can send out a message to anyone who’s going through personal difficulties – whether recently experienced or long-term endured – it is to say: “Don’t give up.”

We don’t always know what we’re made of until our backs are to the wall, especially if we’ve oriented towards ‘flight’ rather than ‘fight’ in early years.

Fighting for survival is a primary motivator and there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Even if you can’t see it for yourself, let someone else – a friend – see it and hold it for you until you can.

I’m only 65, and I’ve got all my life ahead of me. So have you.

Soap

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It may not be the most obvious thing to write about at this time of year, or even at any time of year.

However, it represents, for me, something of a New Year’s resolution, albeit one that I started with before this New Year; in fact before the last few New Years.

I started using soap instead of shower gel as a way of using less plastic. It’s a small contribution to a massive environmental problem, and I’m sure soap itself has negative impacts on the environment.

But I believe in small steps, building up to marathons and mountain climbs.

I make other buying decisions to reduce the impact of my waste on the world, such as buying unpackaged fruit and veg when I can, although I’m still horrified at the amount of ‘stuff’ that goes into our recycling bins.

This relates to an earlier post Poetry Rule No. 9b Keep recycling to a minimum until you’ve got your other priorities right. It may not seem obvious that it does – almost a contradiction in terms – but I will write further posts with further insights from this position.

For now though, I just want to keep this post simple, like the soap I use.

Cancellation

Cancellation

My holiday was cancelled

and I had to stay at home

I started feeling angry

and even a bit glum

But then I saw the sad news

so many dead at sea

fleeing from their countries

just wanting to be free

I was disappointed

they were lost and drowned

it gave me some perspective

and made me look around

I only had to change my mind

I still had life and breath and limb

I’d only lost a holiday

While they’d lost everything.

2013 & 2017

Poetry Rule No. 9b Keep recycling to a minimum until you’ve got your other priorities right

Cover

Don't judge a book by its cover
don't even begin to think that you know
what lies underneath
when every belief
that is written in time comes and goes

Don't judge a book by its cover
for the pages are those that can lie and deceive
the wisdom of years
may appear as true fears
and the rest will come in as you weave

Don't judge a book by its cover
when the story has not yet begun
Yet the time is right now
and in some way, some how
what needs to be said will be done

Don't judge a book by its cover
it's only a matter of time and again
tattered and torn may be weary and worn
but it's all the same in the end

Don't judge a book by its cover
don't even begin to think that you know
for it's all in a muddle
and inside the middle
is a tale that is waiting to grow
so it will

2014