I seem to be on a poetry kick lately. Either that, or the Universe has a reason why it keeps placing these tidbits of poetry where I’ll stumble over them on the way to something else. This one is by Nikki Giovanni and comes from her poem, “Age:”
“In youth our ignorance gives us courage.
With age our courage gives us hope.
With hope we learn that man is more
than the sum of what he does.
We also are what we wish we did,
and age teaches us
that even that doesn’t matter. “
When I talk to people about creating an authentic Third Age, I find that, more often than not, their biggest regret is not for what they did, but for what they wish they had done. While, as the poet tells us, we are more than what we do and what we don’t do, and that even that doesn’t matter, it is also true that authenticity means being true to who we are, including those parts of us that yearn for self-expression. It can take the form of dabbling in the arts, like painting and writing, or traveling, or even hang-gliding. Whatever it is, it’s not about having done it, but having experienced what it represents to us, be it freedom, creativity, or even God (I can well imagine feeling extremely close to God when hanging up in the air with nothing holding you up but a giant kite).
My own journey to creating an authentic life began when I came to realize that I wanted to write even if I never made a dime, and that writing was as much a part of who I was as breathing. Once I made that discovery, my writing took on a whole new life and direction – it became a genuine reflection of who I really am. I also forgave myself for all those years that I either didn’t write, or wrote to fit someone else’s idea of what writing should be, a.k.a. critics. Once I started writing for that one woman out there who looked like me, thought like me, and was the same age, my life started to become authentic. Sure, I still sometimes slip back into the “what will people think” mode, but now I realize it much more quickly and pull myself back into this sacred, precious, present moment and live for it, write for it, and create for it. For me, that is what truly matters.
Something tells me that you, brilliant writing students that you are, already know where we’re going with this week’s writing assignment on the Home Page. As always, have loads of fun with it and, always, keep writing.
Peace and blessings.