Les Brown, a motivational speaker some of you might be familiar with, speaks about the most difficult years in a person’s life are between the ages of 40 and 60. He says that those years often bear witness to our parents aging or dying, possible the decline of our own health and life lived with deferred dreams. This, he states, is where most people become parked in life. Where days upon days just pass and lives become unattended. There we sit, parked waiting on life with baited breath.
For a short period of time, I couldn’t bring myself to visit my mother who lives not to far away from me. I had developed anxiety and began to fear elevators and escalators.
My mother lives on the sixth floor. For over a year, I climbed six flights of stairs every time I payed her a visit
I also feared seeing and revealing the effects of aging. I wanted to remain young and healthy around my mother so she wouldn’t worry. It seemed cruel to burden her with anxious thoughts about my health.
My mother also suffers from insomnia, as do I and she has experienced some close calls where her life could have been in jeopardy with pots left on open flames as her body would finally give in to sleep. The thought of my mother, who has been a pillar of strength my whole life, succumbing helplessly to a thoughtless tragedy strips my courage bare.
I’m there, trapped between what has happened and what may be soon to come. There I sit, behind the wheel of my parked life, as uncertain as my first day out on the open road.
This time in my life is precarious, teetering back and forth. One day strong, the next broken. Elated then filled with frustration. Well then full of dis-ease. Certain that God is listening, convinced he is not.
Anne Lamont, a favorite writer of mine, says there are three prayers we can pray that cover all the varied pleas and challenges we throw up to God in hope of healing and attention. They are Help, Thanks, and Wow. When words don’t come easy and our stumbling breaks our confidence. Help, Thanks and Wow will get us through.
Help God for all the fears and failures that have kept me in neutral and left me on the side of the road scared to enter the race again.
Thanks God for the miles I’ve gone so far and your promise of better days ahead.
Wow God at least once a day I am held captive by your demonstration of love for me
Help, Thanks, and Wow don’t reverse time, don’t cure diagnosis, don’t end pain, but can bring deep satisfaction and connection like the warm smile of a friend whose words aren’t even needed or the unconditional love of a wagging tail waiting by the door.
“If we stay where we are, where we’re stuck, where we’re comfortable and safe, we die there. We become like mushrooms, living in the dark, with poop up to our chins. If you want to know only what you already know, you’re dying. You’re saying: Leave me alone; I don’t mind this little rathole. It’s warm and dry. Really, it’s fine.
When nothing new can get in, that’s death. When oxygen can’t find a way in, you die. But new is scary, and new can be disappointing, and confusing – we had this all figured out, and now we don’t.
New is life.”
Great reminders and heartfelt as always, Victoria.
Pulling out my copy of “Help, Thanks, Wow” for another look.
I do a lot of writing on midlife and sent a proposal to a publisher who has asked me to tweak it for a more inclusive audience. Midlife, they say, doesn’t sell. In the years between 40 and 50 I’ve mined treasures untold. Midlife, for me has been a sacred threshold. A place of redemptive unsettling. I’m tweaking the proposal because I believe in the work but midlife is special. I won’t give up on this season and I won’t forget to breathe and move throughout it. Many blessings to you Victoria. I haven’t forgotten our coffee/tea date. I’ll connect soon.