Cheryll's Writing Journal

Musings, rants and ravings, plus gems of insight nobody wants to hear now that I've finally got them. Also neat stuff I found on the 'Net when I should have been updating this blog....

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thoughts on the View from 'Over the Hill'

I've been putting together my will and testament lately. The will portion is done, essentially, being concerned with just the material things, and therefore pretty straightforward.

But I'm finding the testament to be challenging. I'm stressing over what have I to testify, after all these years I have lived, so far.

(Wipe those smiles off your faces! Your time is coming. Soon.)

It is never a comfortable thing to feel one's life might have been spent largely in vain -- but there you are. It has taken me this long to wonder about how successful I have been at whatever it was I figured life was about!

Not that the things I've done were the issue -- no matter that I thought they were -- though there are, of course, some that I regret. It is more that my motivations need to be examined. And -- perish the thought! -- may have been faulty...

Good deeds -- or bad ones, for that matter -- are colored by why we do them. At this point in my life, I'm questioning this issue much more than ever before.

Never let it be said that I am a quick study...
Perhaps menopause provides (forces?!) time for reflection. It's very hard on the ego to realize that all that deep thinking I thought I was doing, wasn't. That maybe I wasn't such hot stuff as I believed? (Or worse, that everybody else knew it before I did!)

"Time makes all men poets," some famous person, whose name escapes me, said. If poets are people who help the rest of us see what hardly anyone else had noticed (or admitted to), then I can see the pundit's point. Because I've had lots of time recently, since I can no longer fill my days doing a million things at once. This can be a major problem for someone who has evidently defined herself by what she was doing...

The truth is that I have never been much for poetry. Stuff never made any sense to me.

Until lately?

Not that I have developed 'eyes to see,' or anything so profound as that -- but lately some poets seem to be speaking to me directly. "Killing me softly, with his song," to quote Joanie Mitchell.

Baha'u'llah, 19th century Prophet of the Baha'i Faith, said that, "True loss is for a man to live his life in ignorance of his true self."

Looking back, it seems to me that I have spent a good deal of time and energy trying NOT to see my true self. Which is very hard on the ego, since I think -- thought -- I was so well developed and knowledgeable...

But denial takes energy. And even for redheaded supermoms, the energy eventually wanes... "We are not pleased," to quote queen Victoria. (Wasn't she also a redhead??)

True, I've spent much time and energy trying to be good -- or, at least, do good -- but looking back forces me to wonder at my reasons. And whether those reasons are worthy. Not always a very comfortable contemplation.

Why is it important to me that I do good, for instance? Well, on those occasions, of course, when I have managed it!

Did a good deed happen as the natural consequence of being good? Or because I wanted the world (and specific people) to think me good?

Was my intent to please God -- or some more temporal authority -- or did I actually have loftier goals? (And does it matter? I mean, this self contemplation thing might just be avoiding the chores this morning...)

Maybe not even saints are completely free to be good for goodness' sake. Maybe we are all still being and doing good mostly to please someone else. Certainly, that is how as children we learn to be and do everything. What does a two year old know of tooth decay and street traffic and how disorder in one's life causes depression?? They have parents for that.

No, the desire to please, the need to be loved, may eventually transmute into habits that are good and good for us -- at least as parents we hope this for our kids. But it looks to me that as adults, much of what we do may still be based on old habits of thinking and doing. We can hope these are beneficial, but we haven't actually thought them out.

How much of that basis is still just hoping that our parents will love us? Or, for the religious, that God will love us? Having been raised by humans does pretty well train us that to be loved, we must be "good," however that is locally defined.

True religion teaches that we are already loved by our Creator, and the purpose of being good is found elsewhere. (False religion teaches us that we have to do things to please God and receive the reward of being loved.)

So, if we are loved, in all our imperfections, then why worry about being/doing better?

Maybe because we remember -- and grow -- better if we discover truth for ourselves? From my own experience, that is certainly true! I never paid much attention to 'The Oldies' giving me advice...I mean, they were OLD!

And should I expect you, my children, to listen to me? Even if I put it in writing that you will have to read at least once, after I am gone from this temporal life.

I love you all --
the one I birthed,

those acquired by marriage,

the fosters, and the many others in looser arrangements --

all those who have come to me over the course of my life.

I want you to have lofty goals, to succeed, to be healthy and happy. There are things I managed to learn (mostly the hard way) -- stuff about how it works, stuff that I can see and that maybe you don't -- that I'd like to share.

The question I now have is about how much I can guide, how much power I might have to help or dissuade from errors, or even to point out road signs. Not only where I might prevent some pain --

But also whether prevention is either necessary or good. It is a mystery.

What if, like me, people have to fall in order to believe the advice to watch where they are stepping?

There! See how easy it is for me to get off topic? So much less threatening to worry about someone else than to examine myself further.

Nope. This blog is supposed to be about me and about helping me see where I am right now (which requires some looking back to see where I've been).

That I might help or entertain others in the process is not supposed to be the focus.

But how many of my posts reflect "me" avoidance? Surfing the Web for neat stuff is more fun! Further, sharing current events and family history is probably way more interesting to you kids than my ruminations about self discovery.

I am hoping, however, that some of you must surely be more self aware than I have been all of my life. Perhaps my experience will save you some time...

Or maybe only give you some insight into why I might have done some of those things you thought peculiar!

Admit it! There have been times when you wondered what I could have been thinking.
And I don't mean just when you were teens and found your parents deeply embarrassing.

(Although, looking at the picture albums, I really did justify that sometimes... Who was that woman, anyway?! Like me and the friendly (library) gopher snake here...or me and mini skirts there.)

That's what I need to figure out in order to finish my will and testament. The testament being where one gets to say a bunch of things nobody wanted to listen to while one was alive...LOL.

A testament is a way of bridging generations, of making certain that nothing is left unsaid. Like explaining one's successes and failures, one's goals and the progress made on them. Being sure to tell loved ones that they are loved, were always loved, (or not) and specifically why.

Especially why. I was so busy surviving day to day with a dying husband and an unfinished house and two businesses and 5 kids under 16, that I missed a lot of your teens. I didn't tell each one of you just why you are so special, and how proud I am of you.

Or what a bounty it was to have you in my life.

Before I can write a successful testament, I need to go back and really look at that life. Explaining to you all is helping me to figure it out.

You can skip the ramblings and just look at the pix if you want.

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