NAPOWRIMO Day 11: Wisdom from 100 Years of Living Out Loud
Today, April 11, 2063 is my 100th birthday.
I am a tapestry of all of the interests, interesting and not-so-interesting fragments of my 100-year journey. I love my life – God, family, friends, food, fashion, travel, music – yet, I courageously embrace the questions in my heart. As Rainer Maria Rilke advises, “Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves…”
In spite of the challenges presented to me over the years, I continue to love and leap as if I have no history or scars. Perhaps it is why this is inked on my side: “The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of. (Though the words of Blaise Pascal are a little larger than they once were.) Call it courageous or foolish. I like “plucky” which I have been called a time or two in my life.
I understand, own, acknowledge, appreciate, and express all of who I am (both the light and the dark). I am a writer and a hopeful romantic, and believe as Francois de La Rochefoucauld, “We pardon to the extent that we love.” This has kept me gracious, and keeps me from becoming old AND bitter. (As I have been known to admonish women of every age – Bitterness destroys beauty.)
I firmly believe that – at my stage in life – holding hurt(s) and hope concomitantly in one’s heart is not only possible, it is essential to living a life with purpose – one that encourages and inspires others. In spite of encounters with sh*tty humans, I have been vigilant about not allowing anyone to steal my joy. At age 100, I am still adamant about creating my own adventure. And, I know in that way that you know that you know one can be exquisitely happy and full while facing extraordinary difficulties. It is just not that simple.
Every day I embrace becoming more of who I really am. It is a process: We can’t become “authentic” in the same way we can earn a degree or accomplish a financial goal. Authenticity – like love, health, courage, awareness, patience, and more – is an ideal we aspire to and is something we must practice in the moment-by-moment, day-by-day experiences of life. Our ability to be real can and will deepen as we move through our journey of life, if we’re conscious about it. (Excerpted from Mike Robbins book, “Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken.”)
Do not be afraid to open doors, or more importantly, close them. I wish I had closed some sooner. As I age, I am more careful to choose what nourishes my soul, and I am not so afraid to leave behind what does not. Sometimes a leap of faith is our only transportation. I wish I had learned this 70 years ago.
The journey is worth taking. Even when it makes others uncomfortable. In fact, especially so.
So, just for today, I am fearlessly honest about myself and with others, I speak my truth, and I live my life in a way that is true for me. I have given all with sincerity; entirely with integrity, and mostly full of grace. Sometimes I (figuratively and literally) fall on my face.
I strongly encourage you to choose love each and every day, become the poet of your own authentic life, be kinder than necessary in each moment. Know without a doubt that forgiveness is above all the greatest gift to yourself. Be present, dream big always, and never ever lose faith.
I pray at the end of my days that it may be said, “She really lived.”
the two men from great
they really lived?
they really lived.”
(From the closing scene of the movie, “Secondhand Lions.”)
And, she loved beyond measure!
(Note: If by chance you are finding this letter after arriving in the future in a time machine, I hope that you will be ever changing and growing in both boldness and graciousness. I pray that you grow wiser and more compassionate with each passing year, and every day you find small yet sacred ways to become a little more you as you were always designed to be. And for the record, when you say “yes” you are saying “no” to something also. I have learned too often, as women, we are not appropriately guarding our time and our own heart. Start now.)
~Just L (April 11, 2018)
Author’s Note: NaPoWriMo Prompt – Write a poem that addresses the future, answering the questions “What does y(our) future provide? What is your future state of mind? If you are a citizen of the “union” that is your body, what is your future “state of the union” address?”