The Daily Prompt today is Against All Odds for writers and Longshot for photographers. The idea is for us to write “about a situation where you’d hoped against all hope, where the odds were completely stacked against you, yet you triumphed.” My initial thought was to just do this photograph as a ‘longshot’ because the ‘against all odds’ didn’t resonate with me. I had times that were tough, when I thought the odds were stacked against me, but getting through them didn’t feel like a triumph. It was what I had to do. Period. Tough times are the balance to the easy times, no trophies expected.
I am at the age of almost-70 and my developmental task is to look back 0n my life and come to terms with how it turned out. The easy times are a slam dunk; no need to come to terms with those years. What is left are those blocks of time when everything fell apart, when fate struck me down, when life wasn’t as I wanted it. We all have them, times when we feel wounded, stuck, angry, afraid.
How many times have I said “I don’t need this!” I didn’t want those tough times, my life would have been better without them. I didn’t want to go down that road, tread that path. They were unwanted twists and turns in the plot of my life story. During the really bad times my fear was lodged in the pit of my stomach. There was that hollow feeling that life was over, life would never get better.
Of course, when I went through those tough times I was in the middle of my unfolding life story, not at the end – not yet. I was in the long, ongoing process of writing my life script, of becoming who I am. (Does our life story develop us or do we develop our life story?) Where I was and what was happening to me wasn’t congruent with what I felt I needed or how I thought about myself.
In those early adult years I took control of my life and knew what was expected of me. I came of age before the sexual revolution, before women demanded choices. I didn’t have many choices but I was in control – is that a non sequitur? As I look back, does it matter if I wanted to marry and have kids or did it because it was the expected thing to do?
I want to believe my daughters benefited from all those burned bras. One chose to have a career without marriage, the other married, had kids, and put her career on hold. I wonder if they will look back and wonder if they made the right decisions. Both had times of suffering and frustration along the way, both had times of joy and satisfaction. Will they have regrets, will they look back with a sense of integrity?
There was another life that I might have had, but I am having this one. Kazuo Ishiguro
How different my perspective is at almost-70 than at earlier times. In earlier times that hollow feeling of fear in my stomach, the fear that my life would never get back on track, was understandable. I had no way of knowing what the future would hold.
Our view of the future is finite; sometimes we can see over the next hill, sometimes not, and sometimes not very clearly. Sometimes we distort our vision. We make our life decisions blindly – decisions to act or not, to stand steady or bend. My decisions were somewhere in the shadows between dreams outside my awareness and family needs grounded in reality.
As my life story unfolded I pushed hard to arrive, whatever that means. I was impatient for whatever it was that I was after. I was always mindful of what I wanted to be and do when I grew up, whenever that is. Sometimes I couldn’t go down a path, and sometimes the only path available was one that wasn’t in the plan. You know, that shadowy plan that would lead to that place called arrived. I enjoyed some sojourns at arrived but they seemed short, probably because sojourns in the mud-holes of life seemed so long.
Now that I am almost-70 and looking back over the landscape of my life, I see that all was necessary. Somewhere in the landscape of the last half of my life, these paths have woven together into a beautiful pattern. I can see that no path was for naught, each was needed for my life to have integrity in the end.
I have been writing like I have arrived, at the end. This almost-70 age is fast becoming 70. It occupies a lot of my thinking, not in a dreaded way, but in a way that means it is significant. Once again I am wondering what the future holds but I can’t see clearly. Once again I am wondering what I need to do to arrive, now that I see death on the horizon of my life story. I am worried about the inevitables of aging – losing my husband, leaving my husband, children getting really sick, cancer. My goal has been to grow old gracefully but now that I’m here I don’t know what graceful looks like. What I do know is that I have a wonderful Lord to lead me, and I come from a long line of very strong women.
That is probably enough for me to make it to my final arrival, but if anyone out there knows how to be 70-something gracefully, I would like to hear from you.
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