I’m turning 40 soon, and musing on how to come to terms with ageing: with all the doors that have closed, with who I have been – and not been – thus far in my life.
I feel pretty mediocre. I wish I could have been a more secure person, more relaxed, more able to experiment, explore, learn, be creative.
I’ve got the family life I dreamed of, I’m with a really great guy and our daughter is an awesome kid – but I’m spoiling it with anxiety. I often seem incapable of really living this life.
Having a baby, being sleep deprived and ill and struggling with my mental health has all narrowed down my horizons, so that mostly all I think about is sleep and staying healthy and surviving.
However, the moral of Sarah Wilson’s story about sitting in the grim was really that you can become open to unexpected moments of “grace” when in that vulnerable state – she related an experience of lying down on the muddy ground at the end of a hike, letting ants crawl on her, and feeling utterly liberated and joyful – and I can say this has been true for me.
In many ways it was a hard summer – my last post made no bones about that. But even in the midst of all the grim and drudgery there have been unpredictable moments of grace where for no apparent reason everything just feels right, and I’ll remember them when I think of this summer:
Getting videos from my daughter’s new nursery, such as of a staff member showing her (and others) the bugs underneath a log, telling her they are bugs and her repeating “bugs” and pointing. I loved seeing her carer cheerfully entering the kids’ world and inhabiting their fascination in seeing bugs for the first time, and seeing her engage and learn. It felt like a new and marvellous world that we had somehow dropped her into. And all summer long she’s been able to play outside and have adventures there.
That drizzly walk where she and I quietly and carefully looked for snails and other creatures, under a heavy grey sky and with rolls of thunder echoing around the neighbourhood; I was feeling shitty, but was rewarded for pushing myself out of the flat with a beautiful quiet time with her that took me by surprise in its tenderness.
That Friday morning recently where I’d had an unusually good sleep and it just felt so luxurious to be still in PJs at 10am instead of being at work. Getting peals of laughter for throwing her 10 Numberblock toy to the ceiling as it transformed into a rocket in our imaginations – I felt I couldn’t possibly be any happier.
Another Friday morning when I took her to Tiso’s and we had fun playing in and around the tents and I found myself lying on the floor of a tent feeling utterly surrendered to life and joyous in the daftness of that moment.
Oh, and there was that afternoon we sat on the beach and played our fingers through the sand in relaxed companionship under a big blue sky and I felt blissfully happy to have her in my life.
Then just last week, the two glorious days of annual leave for “me time”: the ridiculous excitement at going to a big mall for the day, the simple fun of doing the adventure golf with my partner, the indulgence of pancakes at McDonalds both mornings.
And this week, tossing aside my inhibitions and lying on my back on a play mat at nursery at the request of a child, rolling about with her. Maybe there’s something about lying down in unusual places?
Horizons have narrowed and it’s easy to see that as a negative but I guess the nice part is that I’m able to enjoy very simple pleasures to an unusually large degree.
Maybe there’s nothing more to “living this life” for me – at least just now – than pulling through the challenges and being open as much as possible to the moments of grace.