Sunday, July 15, 2018


Aren’t we supposed to get wiser as we get older? I must’ve missed the memo.
The abiding takeaway from this whole advancing towards middle age thing has been: confusion.
I long for the certainty of my early 20s, when this was absolutely good and that was definitely wrong. When of course art trumped the artist and hell yes, we'd yell bloody murder if someone assaulted or cheated on us.

Now? Mmmmmm….ffffff… - I don’t know…

Such a gift. This aging.

I’m in the last year of my 30s so technically – technically – I’m not old. But thanks to the magic of television, the Panic has started. Not really of boobs sagging or fuses going pffft on the ovaries, but of knowing that this is it. I am not Helen Mirren. I won’t be shooting gangsters at 70.

I’m going to be broke like a millennial. Gosh that made me feel younger for a minute.

I will tell you this though.
If we age correctly, it won’t be because things get less confusing. It’ll be because they get more so. The cause – our humanity. We may have had all the education, all the cuddles and all the life-lessons handed down to us; we may try really hard not to be a little shit – but a little shit we will be. We will, at different points in our lives, be both perpetrator and victim. We cannot avoid it. Understanding that this is who we are, is hard. 

Into the cracks of these existential catastrophes, we must dive. The waters are murky. There’s no way but to feel our way through the contradictions. Turns out we sometimes lie, cheat and step over another for our self-interest. Turns out, we can be weak. We won’t be the girl who reports her abuser. We won’t be the guy who turns down a job in the tobacco industry. Still. We are the girl who stood by someone’s depression, someone’s cancer. We are the guy, who supported a colleague’s fight against workplace harassment. We showed up for the tough stuff. We let someone down. We risked reputation for the greater good. Sometimes we weren't up for the fight. 

We will grapple with how both versions of self can exist side by side. We will realise that our lives aren't bigger than Life, that complex beast just beyond reach. When we surface, we will feel good. Look ma, I learned this thing. Look ma, I saw.

Not so fast. We merely survived. We didn’t flippin’ triumph okay? Our cave wasn’t the only one. Our learning wasn’t one-size-fits-all. We came out with the Shoulds still strapped to our backs.

So here's the bad news, we might have to dive in again. And again. And again, until we discover the meaning in our contradictions: compassion. 
Because really, there's no other way. We tried judgement, it didn't make us better. We tried debilitating criticism - the self-talk nearly killed us. We held ourselves & each other to impossible standards. We only caused hurt in the end.

With compassion we might be able to tell the difference between mistakes, ignorance and Trumpian evil. We might learn how to discern what deserves our anger and what doesn't. Compassion allows room for confusion. But more radically, confusion, allows room for compassion. And maybe that's why we age at all.

Because there sure as hell isn't any medal at the end of it.


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