Make it About You
Jeanne from Westport, Connecticut asks:
After 33 roller-coaster years, really good and horribly bad (his year-long affair, financial disasters), I can no longer use the children as a reason for creating this false sense of family security in this marriage. Single life at the age of 61 is more than a little scary, especially financially. How does one tap into our inner knowing to find the answers of what to do?
Greetings, Jeanne, and thank you so much for writing. Your quandary is shared by many and I applaud you for having the courage to demand alteration to an existence you no longer find satisfying. Change and novelty are paid great lip-service in our collective ideology, but in truth human beings have always been inclined to perpetuate habitual behaviors even when the greatest joys might be waiting just around the corner if we for one moment act other than we usually do. It takes more fortitude to change our circumstances than we ever admit. And 10 times that to actually change ourselves. In your case, I sense the approaching advent of a profound transformation. A ferocious ember of rebellion has begun to glow in the depths of your desperation and not much longer, you’ll know the ecstasy of release. But first, you will have to understand matters essential to accomplishing the task before you.
By my reckoning, you have a few major hindrances to achieving your ends. That, of course, is not atypical, and with some work you can provide yourself with the remedies you need to assist in the season of change that will surely follow. First, you need to address your perception of certain matters. Perception is truth. Subjective though it might well be, the way you personally interpret data is all that you can ever truly experience of anything. Just now, you own perceptions are gltiched, mired in sticky modes of traditional morality. It makes you feel as if you have to justify your every action, to yourself and the world around you. It also tells you only a damn fool leaves the safety of hearth and home… even an unhappy one… at the age of 61. We all have a script playing endlessly in our minds that mutters and murmurs around every single decision we make. In your case, the script was written by a duty-bound system of family-based honor codes in your younger days. And while there is nothing wrong with that, you need to be able to understand and usurp the ideas that bind and direct your mental processes. Another issue that will have to be addressed is the fear of making bold strides at your stage of life. Most of our social hangups about age are the same as the ones we have about appearance, and neither has anything to do with actual human ability. It’s just the regurgitated drivel that issues forth from Hollywood and pours like a busted sewer main into our lives on a daily basis. Among many indigenous tribes, and in more “primitive” human settings, you would be considered just coming into your own at your age. And even here, in the youth-obsessed West, there are people far older than you tackling marathons, new careers and climbing mountains constantly these days. Stripped of its modern stress and processed foods, the human body is able at 60 to do pretty much what it did at 30. So I have to wonder how much of our “aging” is mental. We are told we are done at 40 or 50… and so we are.
Here’s my advice to you, bold, champion Jeanne. Strip yourself naked… get yourself raw… and then go out and conquer this crazy world for yourself. You asked how to find inner answers, and I’m here to tell you that it’s a good deal easier than people like to think. It’s also sort of uncomfortable. And lots of times it’s downright terrifying. Because you’ll have to get beyond all that social programing and move into realms of instinct and emotion, down past all that conditioning into the sensual, the orgasmic and the experiential. There’s no real identity there. No hidden “self” to discover as many new agers will claim. It’s a place of chaos; wild, brazen and even poetic. But it is your own, and it is natural. You start your journey there by getting back to nature, to the elements; by spending time in the flow of the seasons. Nature is one road in. Art is another. Art is cathartic. So take up writing and painting and dancing. It doesn’t matter if you suck at it. Perfection is definitely not the point. Nor is anybody else’s good opinion. This isn’t for them. It’s for you. Make a pilgrimage to the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan. Go up a few stories and stare at Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” And while you’re standing there whisper to yourself, “I’m free, I’m free.” Hand in hand with art and nature comes what I dread to call the spiritual. So once you’ve returned to nature and reclaimed your art, then go out and find your god. Not the god of your fathers… not the god of your culture… but the god of yourself… The one that lives inside you. For companionship, get a pet. They work wonders. Stay away from romance, but do take up with other expatriates, people who’ve dropped out of the quest for all the great American bullshit and are doing just fine; people who go to Rainbow gatherings, grow their own beans, read books and have orgies just for fun. Yes, people your age do all those things and more. What has the security of that unhappy hearth and home gotten you so far? I say from here on out, make it all about something bigger. Make it about you.
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