In this Lifetime?
I smoked enough pot in college to know that all we had to do was to give peace a chance. John and Yoko taught us that in 1969, during their great Bed-In for Peace, with this song, the new anthem of the peace movement, the backdrop. We took the song proudly to Washington in October of that year, for the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam, which did and did not work.
“There are many lifetimes in a lifetime”, says Mary Pipher in in her stunning new book, Women Rowing North: Navigating the Developmental Challenges of Aging.
Aging is kicking my butt, I speak to nobody, alone in the hollow bedroom.
How many lifetimes in this one, I wonder, as I reluctantly stretch awake into a new and emptied day.
In my lifetime as a child who stuttered, terrified to risk saying my name, I knew that wanting to kiss Audrey Hepburn was sick, and I was wrong-wrong-wrong and I better hide-hide-hide.
As a college student in the ‘60’s, I learned that enough alcohol and pot might soften my terror and that talking to the creepiest boy at the fraternity party was probably a good-enough cover.
As a young married woman in the ‘70’s, I learned that all the comfortable apartment furniture in New Jersey couldn’t open my heart to that poor man or make that life fit around me.
As a radical lesbian feminist separatist in the later ‘70’s, I learned that women would be the salvation to the inherent evils of the patriarchy, that we were the only chance the earth had for balance and bounty. (Hum?)
As a teacher in an inner city high school in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, I learned that no matter how much I cared, no matter how hard I tried, I could never understand the realities of the lives of the students who sat in front of me, day after day, for seventeen years.
As a sober woman in the ‘80’s, I learned that just maybe life wasn’t here to hurt me.
As a Jewish-Hindu-nun living in an ashram in the later 80’s and ‘90’s, I learned that being present with the moment might be worth the risk.
As a woman blessed to be married to another woman, I learned that equity and civil rights are possible, that change can emerge for the good of all.
As a stakeholder in an organization that promotes mindfulness and healing, I learned that bad things do happen to good people and to good places, that the Corporation will win, that we are no different from anybody else, despite the depth of commitment and the passion of practice. I learned that greed is greed no matter where it lives.
As a baby-boomer living in this, the second-year of reality colored with alternate-facts and fake-news, I am learning that driving a Prius and using appropriate light bulbs are no longer enough to save us.
How many lifetimes in this one, I wonder again, flooded by lifetime after lifetime of memory, as I linger, vulnerable, in bed.
How does one live into aging in a culture so age-phobic, so death-defying?
In the past, I didn’t know how to do any of these transitions; I didn’t know how to leave my husband or how to get sober. I didn’t know how to outlive being severed from a job that was my life’s work.
I simply rowed forward.
I just found my way.
I am counting on this evidence-based data, these lifetimes within this lifetime, that shows me I did find my course, I did move forward, I was carried onward along the river of my life.
I am counting on the strength of my commitment to grow my soul and soften my heart, to relax my body and face my fears.
I am counting on the glorious light spilling into the darkness of each new day.
I am counting on the love of good animals to keep my heart engaged.
I am counting on the beauty of this precious earth to bless me with her glory.
I am counting on the brilliance of my lifetime to be a beacon, to guide me home.
Inside home and outside home.
I don’t know how. I’m mostly terrified, as I look around, as I look inside. My feet hurt. The bags under my eyes have wrinkles. My body sags. My heart is heavied.
I will find my way.
I am finding my way.
I will inherit the elder status that my body has earned me.
I will find ways to connect, to me, to you, to us.
I will discover a life that exists separate from work.
I will uncover meaning, new and emerging, buoyed up by Netflix and afternoon, unintentional napping.
I will choose my life, into dying.
I will choose my dying, as it arrives.
As best I can. I will.
And to buoy our hearts, here are John and Yoko, yet again in bed. This is about five minutes long; do give yourself any piece of it:
Dear Friends, how many lifetimes live within yours? As you survey them with compassion, what do you notice? How does resilience show up? How do you show up in each, different and the same? What are you noticing? Please keep me posted. I am firstname.lastname@example.org.