As a sexagenarian (great name for our sixties, huh?) I have entered into a period of being in the present in such a lovely, positive, relaxing way. This feels somehow like my reward for living life fully, to do what I want and answer to nobody.
Something about living in an amazing natural place keeps me present most of the time, so much so that I rarely want to leave. I find nature so grounding.
But, as a therapist, I would like to make the case for paying attention to those moments in your past that you simply cannot let go, those moments that come up in your dreams and demand more psychic attention. I know that if I had not gone through a divorce and job loss in my late 40s and then decided to re-think my life, I would not be so content today.
Part of that process for me was contacting a key person from my past for a few astonishingly healing and cathartic conversations. Only you can decide whether letting your past go is possible and healing, or doing something in the present will expedite your movement into a better present and future. In my case I was quite lucky, because the lover from my past was also seeking redemption and healing. I don’t think any other choice would have provided that kind of healing for both of us. The whole experience felt like a blessing.
Sometimes the only way to move on is to take note of what you simply cannot let go of in your past. I would not know about this without experiencing it personally. To learn more about psychic healing and how it can help you believe in love again, I offer you my book: How to Believe in Love Again: Opening to Forgiveness, Trust, and Your Own Inner Wisdom. If you purchase it used through Amazon, I receive nothing, so please send me an e-mail at: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com to request a copy. I promise you a great price!
Although I know this film hasn’t changed in 48 years, watching it showed me how much I have changed, and most of my changes have taken place since moving to rural Colorado. For example, when the riders pick up a hippie on the way to a commune, they eventually ask him where he’s from. His answer is simple and so true: “A city.” When pressed for more he says it doesn’t really matter what city, because cities have the same effect on us as people.I so agree now. And if you don’t, I challenge you to move to the country for a few years. Then we’ll talk.
I have also learned a lot about my biases and judgments of people I don’t know. For some reason, moving here has lighten my load of judgments on those who don’t look like me. I know in ‘Easy Rider’ the country people in the south hate hippie-types. There’s a great line in there from George, the local drunk played wonderfully by Jack Nicholson, who tags along with them on their journey to New Orleans. He says many just don’t appreciate the freedom these two bikers represent.
When they see it they want to kill it. Nice foreshadowing.
Mike rode a Gold Wing when I first met him. Before I fell in love with him 12 years ago, I judged those who rode motorcycles, especially if they had a tatoo. So much for that judgment… I have learned quite a bit about how to experience true personal freedom by living with Mike and by moving away from cities.
How do we benefit from judging ourselves and others? We don’t.
Want to know more about the changes you may go through by leaving city life behind? After checking out Cuenca Ecuador, we left suburban Fort Collins forever in 2014 to build a passive solar home in rural southern Colorado. Today we enjoy the amazing advantages of solar heating plus a 180 view of the Sangre de Cristo range!
What an interesting array of new ideas this past week! From Japan we have “Rent-a Friend” or family member… Apparently some Japanese can be so obsessed with appearances that they actually rent human stand-ins for various get-togethers. But don’t scoff too soon at this idea, because apparently it is also taking off in our own country!Hell, it may be a great idea for those new to foreign countries…like NYC. For the Japanese, who feel uncomfortable borrowing things, rentals seem more honest. They even have substitute therapists, untrained people who will listen to you complain about your life for only $10/hour!
In contrast, Norway has recently discovered the popularity of slow television, or “slow TV” (Norwegian: Sakte-TV), popularized in the 2000s by theNorwegian Broadcasting Corporation(NRK), beginning with the broadcast of a 7-hour train journey in 2009. This live “marathon” television coverage of an ordinary event in its complete length, generally last many hours or even days.
OK now I have a unique and perhaps revolutionary idea. Why don’t you spend the time and energy to make your own hand-picked friend. Imagine how much more satisfying that might be. Or, if you prefer a slower paced life, go find it! Since moving to the country I completely understand the appeal of slow TV, except mine is called ‘slow scenery’ and I stare at it all day long.
to sunset, it changes constantly, and sometimes offers up the most amazing images!
And I have even collected over the decades some of the most perfect music to go along with this tremendous lifestyle. This morning I had to listen to Jesse Colin Young’s song “Ridgetop.”A great description of where we live now. That and “Country Home” work for me!
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.” — Anne Lamott
Right Anne, like anybody’s perfect, but oh how I tried for decades. How crazy was I? Straight A’s in school, the best student in the world, pressure, pressure, pressure. Heck, I didn’t become a writer for most of my life because I figured I wasn’t perfect enough yet. Three graduate degrees later I finally, SLOWLY figured out that Anne was right the whole time. Now I am eminently imperfect, and I have so much more fun!
After we moved here I wondered about how honest I should be about exactly how unfriendly some folks were here. I was actually blown away by how badly some acted, even therapists! I assumed that people are naturally friendly in small towns or out in the country…WRONG!
Lots of folks move here BECAUSE of their anti-social personalities. Duh!
It was only later in life that I realized that I own my own stories, all of them. My most valued possessions are my own stories and how I survived them, every one of them!
My first book was the result of this realization. I had already sold a few of my essays to editors who were putting together anthologies on midlife change back in 2008. I had almost completed the sell of the story of my own divorce, to appear in the Seal Press book: Ask Me About Divorce, when I realized I should be making more money on my own stories! That is howMidlife Magic: Becoming The Person YOU are Inside came about. And I can assure you I made much more on my book than the $100 the Seal Press was offering!
From this and so much other risk-taking behavior, which emerged after I stopped trying to be ‘perfect’, I learned the joy of being fully me. And come to find out, I enjoyed the real me so much more than that nervous perfectionist!
“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go…” -T.S. Eliot
“The joy of listening to the quiet symphony of nature and the wonderment of seeing the Milky Way stretching overhead are unique experiences that can still be found in many of our national parks.” — Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division, NPS
I was so pleased to discover this week that our National Park Service maintains a Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division. These are a few of the joys I have discovered and begun to fully appreciate only by moving away from cities. By living rural I can finally hear the great animal orchestra composed by nature, and look up to find some of the last remaining harbors of natural darkness in our country.
Now that I know, I wish to preserve and provide opportunities for everyone to experience this critical resource.
This past week I spent some time with my father, Jack Carter, a botanist and naturalist. He was a professor of biology at numerous universities and colleges, and is now a professor emeritus at Colorado College. He chose, much like Mike and I, to leave the city behind as he retired, and lived in rural New Mexico until recently. I feel like my father understands the importance of developing special connections with nature, so I enjoy discussing with him how my own feelings have changed in the past few years just by moving away from the many distractions of city life.
I enjoyed my time up north in the city, because spring has already arrived there. Just outside my parents’ door is a marvelous Crab Apple Tree in full bloom. What a beauty! The cities have so many introduced trees and plants that make it more colorful in the spring. I experienced a small amount of spring-envy…
On the other hand, as I walked around the lovely grounds near their home, all I could hear was traffic in the distance. This is a sound I am completely familiar with. Every city I have ever lived in has this distant roar of people in cars going somewhere, or at least trying to, with an occasional siren thrown in.
When I spoke with my Dad about this, he observed that everything in cities is about getting in your car to go somewhere. The distractions are constant and everywhere. They don’t allow us to become fully aware of our surroundings or even the people we meet. I sat outside, listened and understood why I haven’t connected well with nature for most of my life. There was just too much else going on.
Then I started explaining to my Dad how much I finally appreciate nature. I love the morning silence, something I have heard so rarely in my life. I love the sound of birds as they get louder, welcoming another bountiful spring. I feel so in touch with each new change in the trees, the plants, the birds, and the weather. It is like a new awakening in my own soul.
Look deep into nature, and you will understand everything better. Albert Einstein
My Dad understands these things. These are the reasons he chose to live outside cities until his health required moving closer to his doctors. There is something so reassuring about how the cycle of life and death continues regardless of anything we do to change it. This seems like cause for celebration for me, and I celebrate it every morning as the sun comes up.
Please share this information with your friends if they are considering similar life changes. Feel free to contact me directly to discuss any of these challenges, and to order your own signed copies of any of my books! Cheers, Laura Lee (email me: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com)
I just finished reading this fine book, the last written words of a top neurosurgeon who died in his mid-thirties of lung cancer in March of 2015. With a recent scary cat scan of my own lungs in January, you may wonder why I chose to read this book now. I wasn’t sure myself until I read it.
First of all, Kalanithi is obviously a deep thinker, always searching for the meaning in life. In fact as I read I realized he had the opposite reaction than most of us when confronted with such a daunting diagnosis. Most become more emotional, he seemed to become more analytical. This was not my response to my own recent confrontation with death. My response was along the lines of: “Am I proud of my life?”
One aspect of Kalnithi’s story rang very true to me, the way my perception of time has changed so much since we left the city behind with all its traffic and deadlines.
“Everyone succumbs to finitude…Most ambitions are either achieved or abandoned; either way, they belong to the past. The future, instead of the ladder toward the goals of life, flattens out into a perpetual present. Money, status, all the vanities the preacher of Ecclesiastes described hold so little interest: a chasing after wind, indeed.” (pg. 198)
We are never so wise as when we live in the moment.
I am boundlessly grateful to finally understand the pleasure of living in the present.