Ah yes! Time, a gift for the aging: the mysterious, murderous, miracle of time. Time to rest, time to think, time to grieve, time to hope, time to remember, time to do things and say things there wasn’t time for when younger. Today I have time and it isn’t really feeling a lot like a gift. It feels more of a burden. Today the message to myself is that I best use my time well because it will run out eventually. So I listened to music and heard Elvis Presley singing Love Me Tender. Dear god in heaven, Carl and I danced to that music when we were in our 20’s. That was so long ago.
My mother made my dress: A blue taffeta dress with a V neck and puffy sleeves. I had a very flat chest so I helped it out with foam thingies. Two. Separate. One slipped when we danced. I didn’t know how to put it back in place. It slid nearly down to my waist. I was lop-sided, one up, one down. I tried to use my elbow to make the wrong right. It was rather a clumsy dance I tried to pull off while all the time hoping Carl didn’t notice……
I wonder what I did with my shame? I wonder what Carl did with his eyes? I just don’t remember. Even now I can’t laugh. However, I do feel a twitching around my mouth as I remember and feel into those amazing moments as we both tried to look normal and finish the dance. I think it might have been a polka. I loved to dance the polka back then!
Maybe one of the important things to learn to do in our age is to be able to laugh at what seemed so very important in our youth. I remember feeling very spiffy in red, white and blue overalls with huge stripes and a bib top and big full legs. God awful. There might have even been some white stars somewhere in that garish picture. It was in the United States after all. But I thought I was the bee’s knees. Can’t imagine what I wore for shoes. I don’t remember having sandals, which makes me think of ankle socks and saddle shoes. Remember that?
There isn’t much about those years I would want to do again, unless I could do them with more information and more maturity. We really do the best we know in the moment. It blows me away to realize I didn’t know my kids were having parties in the house when I went to weekend training, thinking MY children were way too responsible and way too good to do anything foolish. It wasn’t about being foolish for them, it was about freedom and not enough consequences and my overload so I lost track of what was really going on. Thank god they lived through it all, but I’m not so sure I am really grateful to them for telling me 30 years later. Too late to make amends.
I think one of the many tasks we have as we age is to know now what we didn’t know then and forgive ourselves. I have spoken of compassion for self in the past. Having compassion and understanding that whatever we did, there really was love. Being able to compassionately hold our younger self and be mature enough to forgive ourselves for not being as smart as we thought we were, it is a gift we can give to each other and to ourselves. This is a gift at any age actually. Regrets scratch the skin until it is red and raw and painful. Compassion soothes and heals, gives comfort and accepts the reality of our vulnerable, often not knowing self.
I often feel that forgiveness is tricky. At some level we may feel that to forgive suggests I am saying what happened was okay. Well, maybe it was! Maybe, just okay is good enough. Now, today, who we have become over the years, is better informed. But NOT better intentioned. We did not set out to intentionally neglect or mislead or misbehave in any way. Understanding, compassion, forgiveness, I don’t care what word we use. But my ageing self needs to let go of blaming ME and instead love ME. It has been important for me to let go of being ashamed of the young girl whose boob drooped at the high school dance; or the woman who tried to get an education while single parenting her children and in that process missed a great deal that was going on with her children.
On and on; it isn’t useful to live in regret. It is useful to hold my head up, laugh at myself sometimes, and chuckle about how much I know now and how much I thought I knew then.