My husband keeps asking how I want to celebrate my dreaded 50th birthday. He means well. But nothing sounds quite right.
A Mediterranean cruise?…No
A zip line through the Rocky Mountains?…No
A party with all our friends and a margarita machine?…No
All I can imagine is being quiet somewhere in a remote cabin, with good coffee and a notebook and my art supplies. Or maybe finding a hammock between two pine trees (where there are no spiders dangling on webs). Or, gathering a small group of women who have already turned 50 or who will soon, for pasta and good conversation…
Here’s what we’d talk about:
What does my life mean now? What is my purpose after age 50…after my child leaves for college…after I become invisible to most people? How do I deal with life as I look more and more like my grandmother? What can I look forward to as I move closer to the end of this life? Is it all downhill from here? Have the best things in life already happened?
As I ask these questions, this appears on my mental screen, in all caps.
Must. Keep. Learning. I think this may be the key for me. So as to stay engaged with the world. So as to uncover things that help me mature. So as to protect my spongy gray matter. So as to avoid being bored. So as to find deeper understandings of things I’ve always wondered about. So as to find joy. I trust this.
Every day I need to learn something like…
- a bit of philosophy
- a piece of language
- a method for creating beauty
- a way to meditate
- a bit of literature
- a connection between things
- a pattern in the universe
- a few measures of Brahms
- a new interpretation of something old
Learning keeps me grounded. It chases away monotony. It inspires art-making. It connects me to people and ideas and my community at large. And it’s not just the acquisition of facts that I’m talking about here – it’s the lighting of links between things, the joining of puzzle pieces, the restoration of lost rooms in my inner house.
I want to know…where Beethoven wrote his seventh symphony
…how my neighbor grows romaine
…why I fell for such bad boys in high school
…how the internet works (and where it is, exactly…..I have not yet grasped this.)
…what’s happening in Bangladesh
…where homeless families sleep in my town
…how I can get involved with Habitat for Humanity
Maybe I look forward to learning because I have more freedom to do so. Not so distracted by the questions of youth (How will I survive? Who will I love?), I hear more clearly. Not so worried about who I’ll become, I see where I’ve been.
Trauma recovery helps this along. Trauma recovery cleans out crowded channels that once blocked our learning. Trauma recovery allows new connections to be made and old, blocking beliefs to be shed. EMDR, in particular, clears away loose or distracting memory bits by integrating them, making them whole, placing them in the filing system of the mind, cleaning the path for new learning, new associations, new insights.
Contact me if you’d like to know more about EMDR, trauma recovery, transitions, learning, getting older, or finding new purpose in life.
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