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52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Forty-Seven: Pulling the Pieces of Turning 50 Together

5 Apr

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Life is a Gigantic Jigsaw Puzzle:  I am learning that life is a gigantic jigsaw puzzle.  Unbeknownst to me, God has been slipping me little pieces of my life puzzle all along.  For the first part of my life, I didn’t know that I was receiving the pieces in the first place.  In the latter part of my life, I wasn’t really sure what to do with them.  However, all of a sudden, the puzzle is taking shape.  I see the pieces and am fitting them into place:

My Parents:  My parents set me off on a journey in the key of E flat major, and that is where I have been setting my melody line ever since.  It has been a good key, and when I modulate to another one, I always find myself resolving back to my original key.  I determined some fundamental values on which I guide my life around their life principles.  In many ways, they set the bar very high for how I operate in the world because they were honest, fair, and incredibly authentic.  For some of my life, I have been disappointed to learn that not everyone operates in this transparent way.  How fortunate to know that this moral compass that they gave me has guided me through some tricky terrain, and back to myself again.  The puzzle piece that they gave me was to be honest.

My Sister:   Five years after me, an annoying young baby that cried all of the time, joined me in the world.  I was not impressed by the whole situation, but there she was.  I had to like it or lump it, and fortunately, she became a wonderful part of my life.  She is teaching me a lot about this idea of accepting people for who they are.  My younger sister has become a wise mentor to me in ways that I had not anticipated.  She grounds me in good advice regardless of my confusing life choices.  She appreciates me for my high spirit and always gives me space to return home over and over again, regardless of the challenges.

My Son:  My son is my legacy.  It dawns on me now that all of the music that I wrote in the beginning of my life (and has lay dormant for a while), has been waiting to be produced, published and presented to the world by my son.  He just offered to put my songs that I painstaking composed onto staff paper, into his new technology and sound equipment so that I can finally share it in bigger and better ways.  I had to nurture a musical son so that he could see my music through to completion.  He also wants to do so to better understand some of the melodic and harmonic principles that I studied and then taught as a music teacher.  What a fabulous gift to learn that sometimes our children see our life dreams through to completion when we no longer have the fortitude or the insight to do so.

My Childhood Friends:  My friends have been coming through for me in very integral ways.  My childhood friends are those big obvious pieces of my puzzle that have been slotting very easily into places.  They were there all along, and I am just beginning to see how they fill up my life in profound and wonderful ways.  Like siblings, these crazy people just seem to stick around and be there for me even when I don’t see them in a while.  I am very blessed to know that I am accepted for exactly who I am for an entire lifetime.  Home will always be where my childhood friends and family reside.

My New Friends:  Making new friends in a new culture is not always an easy thing to do.  I cannot rest on my laurels and expect new people to love me for who I am.  It takes time to garner trust, and to show them that I am trustworthy.  However, a few people have risen to the task of letting me into their lives, and have offered me a fresh start in new relationships.  These people have decided to accept me at this point in my life without any preconceived notions—baggage free.  It is liberating to be liked for exactly who I am at this very point in my journey.  It allows me to reinvent myself a bit as I make these new connections.  I am not exactly who I was 40—30—20 years ago.

My Life Work:  I am just learning that the job that I go to every day is not necessarily meant to be my life work.  This realization that our life calling is not always our eight to five paying job can be both disconcerting and motivating.  I realize that I must now reconcile the two and make the time that I spend daily go towards fulfilling the dreams that I have to write, research and teach.  My life path has presented me with serendipitous connections so that I can see this idea of my spiritual vocation very clearly.  However, it hasn’t been until recently that I now know that I need to take risks in order to satisfy my true reason for being on this earth.

Travelling:  My brain gets bogged down in neural ruts.  My drug is travel.  Seeing new people and places where I have never been before, allows me to reinvigorate who I am in the moment to moment of each new experience.  I stay young because I make a concerted effort to experience new things every day of my life in my home and in the world around me.  Travelling locally, nationally and internationally has turned me into a much better human being because it has taught me that the whole world is universally connected to me.  I appreciate every new experience with gratitude because it teaches me something new about the people around me, and in turn, about myself.  Each trip has brought me some new piece of wisdom that was sitting inside of me all along, but I had never tapped into it until I went away to find it.

The Arts:  What re-energizes my soul whenever it is a bit down and droopy is a night of live music, a visit to the art gallery, or enjoying some live theatre.  All of this creativity inspires me to be creative myself.  Being in the presence of imagination spawns innovative thinking and feeling deep inside of me in ways that help me to grow and learn.  I truly believe that this highly charged artistic world keeps me young when I make the impetus to tap into it.  I am drawn to people who initiate inventive thinking because they influence my journey in very powerful ways.  The world is not meant to be seen as only a series of logical outcome.  It is meant to be experienced as a magical encounter, and I believe that this best happens through the arts.

Animals:  I had pets in my younger life.  Unfortunately, they were all killed on a road, or died by terrible natural and unnatural causes.  I did have one stray pussy cat (that my father was not terribly thrilled to keep around) for sixteen years, and this little tabby taught me a lot about love and friendship.  Recently, I am learning that having two little ginger tabbies brings me incredible joy.  I am learning empathy and understanding by responding to the tiny needs that they require of me everyday.  It brings me great pleasure to fulfill their little routines and small pleasures.  Animals are so simple, and yet, so capable of generating incredible tenderness from the people who they love and love them back.  I had forgotten how important animals can be to me.

Nature:  I have learned that being in woods is my sacred space.  I am always fortified by the glory of the green that surrounds me in the wilderness on Vancouver Island.  This place that I was drawn to from childhood has now become my home.  I may travel far and wide, but the Pacific North West Islands of Canada are where I feel most connected to the earth and my own spirit.  I hope to share this with the important people in my life so that we can truly learn about how the forests nourish us as human beings.  I find it very romantic to be given flowers because they are a gift from nature.  However, I have removed all of the house plants from my home because I believe that living plants need to be outdoors, and it is there where I choose to enjoy them.

Love:   I have loved many people in my lifetime with complete and utter abandonment.  Many people have pursued me with this idea that they love me too.  However, real love has been a truly elusive experience for me.  Complete and unconditional love has evaded me most of my lifetime (except for my family and friends), potentially because I learned too late in life that I had to really love myself first with all of my strengths, foibles and insecurities before I could love another.  In doing so, I am now able to present outwardly who I really am, and attract someone who is a good fit for both of us.  I have learned that my soul has to be a true expression of my heart’s desires in order for it to find its match in the universe.  As well, I have learned that love is a verb.  If someone really loves me, they say what they mean and do what they say.

Looking Backwards:  Turning 50 is a big deal.  Anyone who says otherwise is a bit delusional about getting older.  To turn 50 is to see an entire half of a century unfold in unique and wonderful ways.  It is to be able to go into museums and say, “Hey, I used that telephone years ago.  I learned to sew on that treadle sewing machine.  My grandmother cooked on that wooden stove.  My mother did her weaving on this type of loom… etc.”  I can no longer go into a museum without realizing that I have lived part of its history.  From these living archives, I discover from where I have come, and then consider where I am going next.

As I enter the next half of my century, the little discreet pieces of my life are finally coming together because I am finally paying attention to them.  I can see the puzzle taking shape, and am marvelling at the picture developing in front of me.  The picture is not exactly what I had anticipated at the outset of my life.  It is becoming a whole living artifact.  If I squint my eyes tightly, I can see the emerging picture.  It looks a bit to me like a dense forest of Douglas Fir and cedar trees growing beside the ocean.  The sun is shining through the fern foliage, and a waterfall bursts from a crevice in the cliffs nearby. I think it is a picture of home.

“You’ve got to find yourself first. Everything else’ll follow.” 

Charles de Lint, Dreams Underfoot