“You’ll never know until you try.”
–My mantra when I fritter away time and energy trying to avoid the invitation: the next challenge that can grow my love of life and my love of myself. And along the way, bring joy to my elderhood.
How many of us have spent endless years trying to be someone that we’re not? How many times have we looked to someone else as our ideal, without paying much attention to who we really are or to who we are really meant to be? How many of us have spent time dreaming ourselves beyond reality?
As we have tried to live someone else’s dream, we may have given up on the ones we were supposed to have. We may have been blind to the very dreams that we were meant to be guided by.
We may have grown ourselves too small.
My first dream was to be a wife and mother. It was a good dream, and I was blessed to become both in my 20’s.
As a young singer, my dream in my 30’s was operatic coloratura soprano Beverly Sills, The Voice. I dreamed of Me, on the opera stage in New York. Or anywhere. But I would never have the Big Voice.
My dream in my 40’s was to be able to write like Presbyterian minister, Frederich Buechner, whose moving voice elevated faith to a whole new dimension and made holy even the most broken life. It would be decades before I would find my own.
There are some limits to what we can achieve, no matter how hard we try. It can take time to figure that out. Yet, the sky can be the limit if we find our own achievable path. And then find the passion and the determination to follow it.
By my 50’s, heroes began to grow fewer, and my own sense of self began to grow more realistic.
Yet, I still was missing myself as hero.
That would await my 70’s. I first had to learn to practice the art of letting go.
Letting go tends to become a way of life for many elders by our 70’s. We’ve practiced it for a while, but it becomes even more familiar now. We begin to let go of a need for heroes, having seen the clay feet of so many. A new hidden hero has been waiting to emerge. We begin to rediscover the unused gifts we’ve been given. And refine them now. Bless them now with a new passion for a fulfilled elderhood.
In my late 70’s I’m finding my own writing “voice.” A voice that sometimes succeeds better than others, but mine nonetheless. A voice that couldn’t arise without years of seemingly futile practice. A voice that waited for me to let go of the constant nag that says, “You’re not good enough.”
These days, blog posts are an exercise in passion. Passion and practice. Lots of practice.
Am I as good as some of my favorite bloggers? Nope. The question is: am I as good as I can be? Probably not. I’m pretty new at this yet. But I’m all in on this one. There are days when it feels almost heroic. The days when I’ve given it plenty of practice.
When we’re following our gifts, life can become even more of a passion. And it turns out that passion is a big part of what keeps us going – all of us. There has to be passion or we’d give up way too early.
My latest passion is learning to do calligraphy and hand lettering with brush pens. Go figure!
Of course – passions can often be impatient!
But inevitably – passion has to give way to practice.
As if I’m different, I chomp at the bit, and sometimes take a side track just to prove that I can do it without All This Practice. Of course, I can’t. Even the experts can’t.
But I believe that with enough practice, I can achieve “good enough.” And good enough is good enough for me.
I’m also pursuing watercolor painting, which will take longer to achieve. I share my attempts with my family, and they are encouraging. That’s what love looks like…
So when I get impatient, I remember the years of passionate practice that it took to produce very fine results with Norwegian folk painting – rosemaling. And I calm down and put wet paint to watercolor paper and hope for a modest replication of a peony or tulip or rose. My leaves are good…
And “good enough” can be so pleasing because it was still hard to achieve.
So here’s the thing: in the end, it turns out that whatever paths we’ve avoided or pursued, we’ve been practicing for our old age all along.
And I’m very okay with that.
What are your dreams???