Life has been in a state of flux lately, as it often is in spring. The world around me is heavy into the phase of renewing itself, and of course my DNA wants to get in on the party... it seems to me to be a perfectly natural thing to cycle through life: ups, downs, periods of insane amounts of growth, and then a slowing down, a rest...
Until the sap begins to flow again, the chicks arrive, and I start making plans to train for roller derby.
Yeah, just like you never know exactly when the spring rains will arrive or the precise moment the daffodils will open, you just never know when or where the winds of change will blow me, which for me, makes life a splendid experience worth waking up for.
Who knew back in December that when I strapped on those ugly brown rental skates for the first time in 30 years, I'd experience an exhilaration of my own propulsion I hadn't experienced since the freedom of childhood (which allows such things in ways adulthood never has, I've since discovered). And I'm finally old enough now where I don't care that I can't do it well, how I look, what other people think.
I always knew I'd love being 40 (or nearly 40), and my gal Mary Pipher sums up my relationship with my body these days quite nicely:
"Fortunately, with middle age, I granted my body amnesty. Nobody much noticed its shape anymore, not even me. It was well fed, exercised daily and taken to the doctor for regular visits... I didn't ask 'Am I pretty?' but rather, 'Can I still ice-skate, cross-country ski and carry a backpack up a mountain?'"
And my answer is, yes. I can do all those things, better than when I was younger and had other things on my mind. (Women go through these pretty predictable stages in their lives, and I wish we talked about it more, so we can make sense of it, plan for it, make no apologies, and move on unscathed to the next one-- especially for that "my kids are little, I'm socially isolated, losing my mind, and it's making me fat and depressed" stage. That one was particularly crunchy, and I'm so very glad to have put it behind me... but I digress;-)
The feeling of flying, moving through space is intoxicating, with the benefit of making myself feel infinitely better and making my body work better, improving my coordination and balance and confidence that I can be athletic and learn something new. How can that be anything but fantastic?
I plan on growing old kicking and screaming, broadening my horizons and expanding my world with each step I take into the future... but the family I've found myself a part of likes to stay put; it worries them to try new things, and because I am crazy about them, try to honor it. They dislike it immensely when I go off on these tangents, and even though they renew me, the guilt of leaving them behind and the exhaustion at trying to drag them along gets to be too much, and eventually I stop.
But how much of an obligation do I have to postpone healthy personal growth because it makes my family uncomfortable? There has to exist a balance between fulfilling my needs as a human being who deeply requires these experiences, and meeting my family's needs to feel secure. I just haven't found it yet, and it makes me a little blue.
I'm off to skate, bringing a son and a husband who'd rather stay home, who'd rather I'd stay home...sigh. Maybe someday they'll thank me for dragging them with me into the world, and I'll be all the stronger for pulling the weight.