I’ve been thinking a lot about how quickly time passes. Mike and I, and many of you reading this, are in a significant transitional time, a “passing of the baton” if you will. We lost Mike’s stepdad last fall and my dad is in the last stages of Alzheimer’s , so we’ve been trying to make sense of their circumstances, seeing them struggle with these chronic health issues and with no longer being able to do the things they once did.
Being human hurts. Life is constantly changing, throwing new challenges and obstacles our way, and just when we feel like we’re in control and have a solid stance, the rug is pulled out from under us. I look at people who are in their 80’s that 25 years ago seemed invincible to me and completely in charge of their surroundings, now struggling with simple daily tasks they once did mindlessly. Some let go and transition easier than others. It kind of makes me think of the 1600 meter relay in the Olympics. Well trained runners know their individual stretch is done and are looking for their team member with outstretched arm, ready to make a smooth pass without losing momentum. Imagine if a runner is oblivious that his path is ending and clutches the baton tighter as he runs past his successor, making his teammate run after him to try and grab the baton without losing too much time or spending too much energy in transition. We all tend to do this in life…we work so hard to become independent and make our own way. Once we achieve it, we enjoy our new definition of who we are…in control, self sufficient, successful, productive. Unfortunately, a new transition is always around the bend and we must not lose sight of who we are…separate from what we do.
Our parents’ generation has definitely struggled with this. They didn’t have the self help books we have today and back in the 1960’s and 70’s, counseling was strictly for mental patients. Many in their age group struggle with letting go of the power they yielded in their 40’s and 50’s, and try to continue on as if nothing’s changed including themselves. This makes our generation’s job much harder because we don’t want to pry anything out of our elders hands out of great love and respect for them, but we feel such a strong pull to help and to move into our new roles of authority. What’s odd is I can clearly see how short this time will be for us, and if we’re so lucky to live long enough, in just another decade or so our sons will most likely be taking more active roles in our daily lives. It makes me want to plan ahead, both financially and materially. I think I finally understand why people sell their large family homes and “downsize.” These are important decisions that I want to make for ourselves before we become so attached and entrenched in our ways that it feels like cutting off an arm or leg to make such dramatic changes. As Deepak Chopra wisely said, “Holding on to anything is like holding on to your breath. You will suffocate. The only way to get anything in the physical universe is by letting go of it. Let go & it will be yours forever.” Sounds very much like, ““Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
Again, life is difficult…it is full of change, both expected and unexpected, and what really defines us is not what happens to us but how we handle it, and how willing we are to adapt and embrace our new set of challenges and circumstances. At least we can be assured we all go through these same significant shifts in our lives…we are not alone in our experiences…we have each other.