This weekend came and went. I went to bed at the end of the week and woke up in the next decade of my life. It was also monumental, for me, in that, it was on my last birthday that I decided to start this blog. It’s strange how we group time together. Do I feel significantly different a day later than a day before. No. We love to celebrate anniversaries of things. We’re always counting things. How many times we’ve made it around the sun on this planet, how many years our relationships make it around the sun or how many years since they did not, years we’ve worked somewhere, years of schooling, how long we’ve been doing something. Time is this construct that means a lot to us in society. In some ways it is nice to have these ‘marker points,’ to make us reflect on ourselves, where we’re at, where we’ve been, what maybe we want to work on our change within the next trip around the sun. I typically tend to do this more around my birthday than around New Years. Some people do both. This one was especially significant in some ways. I look back at my thirties and think, “Wow, what a long decade!” I feel like my twenties flew by and are remembered rather fondly. My thirties were the polar opposite, to the point where (unlike most people) I woke up and felt relieved to be forty. The closer I got to forty, the more determined I was to make changes I knew I needed to and had stalled. I also began to read more on ‘mindfulness,’ and ‘self-acceptance.’ I was determined, to not repeat my thirties. There was a lot in my thirties that was ‘life.’ It was just hard stuff. There was nothing I could have done but live through it and that’s what I did; however, I failed to see the one thing I could have done was practiced my ‘self-kindness,’ and ‘acceptance.’ I have a perfectionistic side of myself where I can be ‘downright mean,’ in my ability to criticize and bully myself. In those situations where I needed to listen to my body or my feelings, I fought them. I preach it all the time in therapy to patients, and I never took my own advice. There’s no point in fighting a feeling, especially the one’s we deem uncomfortable. It’ll agitate it more. Over the last couple weeks (who knows maybe it took ten years of a lot of kicking and screaming), but I finally realized that relief only comes when we decide to spend time with our feelings and work on changing our relationships with them. In Alcoholic’s Anonymous, there’s this idea that’s called, ‘The Gift of Desperation,” and it really says, “Acceptance and self-compassion seem to happen more easily after we’ve given up the struggle to feel better.’ As I walked from my thirties into my forties, I am trying to throw out the quest to ‘feel great.’ I am trying to embrace accepting where I am at each day. I want to focus on being present for whatever shows up and showing kindness and compassion for whatever feelings come up. I have spent a lot of years and time trying to figure out how to make others live their best lives, move through grief, trauma, heartache, sharing their ups and downs, and providing a compassionate presence to provide space for their needs. I need to start doing that for myself. On my last day of being in my thirties, I was doing some mindfulness practice exercises. I ended up writing a poem about it. After all, poetry is a great example of the simple experience of mindfulness practice. I was going to post the actual poem, “Oak Roads,” since it bears the title of the site, but there will be more opportunities to celebrate and mark ‘anniversaries.’ Instead, I decided I’d share my little poem “Finally, Mindful on the Last Day of 39.”
A river, brook, or stream. A noise
Babies make. The material of “Monkey Mind.”
The word conjures pictures and definitions. My mind
In its present state going from my alarm clock repetitively
Going off over and over this morning.
To get up. Is it because this is Zero Hour
Of this decade of my life? Curious…
Isn’t it, how we divide lives up into clumps of years.
Representing something significant. Tonight
I go to bed and tomorrow I’m in a new research study demographic.
I will carry all losses, laughs, hopes, diseases
Into the new house of years I’m settling into.
If I were truly moving, wouldn’t I
Spend tonight scrubbing baseboards, cleaning ovens,
Walking through the emptiness of my old house
With General’s inspecting eyes. Wouldn’t I….
Be nervous about new neighbors,
The new routes I’ll have to take,
Where I’ll go to get supplies to satiate my hunger & basic needs.
I don’t even feel like I’m crossing the street.
I laid in bed wondering if I continue to be interesting?
Can I move through today with curiosity and smile.
When I feel like crying & my throat I sore.
All day ‘pandemics,’
Is all everyone is talking about.
Is this the one we’re due for,
Across the globe? Yes,
My suitcase is packed, and I’m taking
The Coronavirus, delegates, and Mercury retrograde
With me into the decade. FYI…
I did get up. Right now I’m trying
To be more curious about the here and now.
This only time
In all of my human existence
Where it will be 10:39, on the the last day
I will ever be 39.
I love lasts almost…or maybe the same
As I love firsts. Sipping my
Last cup of Dunkin Donuts Medium Black Coffee
As a man in his thirties. When I call you later,
You will hear me speak in my 30’s for the last time.
I just scratched out a phrase….
No one will ever know what was going to be here.
I am trying not to judge.
Just let the day flow and be present.
To what is going on inside myself.
I want to be with you, present, as much as possible,
However, you present yourself,
But sometimes meeting just the way you are
Is really, really hard.