On Turning 55

Michael McGurk

If 50 was raising the timber frame; 55 was me climbing the timbers & tacking an evergreen branch to its peak. (That happened. There was no photo.)

“50 is the old age of youth,” it is said, “And the youth of old age.”

And it’s true. The fifties are all that.

Or is it just me?

I lost Lila at 55. She had more than a dozen grandbabies by then. But with time’s passing, it seems impossibly young to have been taken.

My older sister died last summer at 55 too and just a few years before her—my aunt.

My mother had 2 years on the 2 of them, alive until 57.

Which is to say—While the sun is shining, I’m making hay.

the legacy of shame

solar-sisters tumblr

Shame. Disappointment. Burden.

With SpRiNg comes renewed attention to my insides as I recommit to what I want on the outside.

I’m curious about your relationship with disappointment.

In a New Year chakra clearing, I gained some clarity around the way I linger with and lay  disappointment onto the men in my home.

It was a painful visual, but it also leads me into compassion for the disappointment I must carry inside. My sense of my father’s almost constant disappointment in me. The weight of disappointment that my mother and grandmothers carried.

I’m no longer willing to be the legacy bearer for that burden.

This sweetly complements my intention to cultivate satisfaction–inside–with a moment to moment practice of saying “Yes,” to what ever arises–on my path, or in my psyche–as an invitation instead of a problem, as something I greet without abandoning, rejecting or shaming myself as “wrong.”

I suspect the practice will be a daily one for the rest of my days.

 

Love, Part IV: The 2018 GREAT SpRiNg LOVE TOUR.

Three days. Three states. Three traveling companions.

300 miles one way.

30+ relatives, ages 3 to 91 (plus 3 four-legged friends) in 2 dozen+ towns.

3 breweries. 2 pizza parlors. 1 steak sandwich shop. 1 Wawas. 2 best friends. Tons of traffic. Some snow. Lots of rain. Rare appearances of the sun. 6 to 8 foot swells.

A choppy ferry crossing. 2 cemeteries. 2 beaches. 2 public gardens. 1 open mic. 1 family yoga class. A handful of laser tag games. A sunset-walk around the lake.

Several car-ride karaokes. A handful of Turkish words, particularly the one for “junk food,” which despite countless repetition, I can’t remember, but definitely feel–in my belly.

2 recitations & one application of Frost’s, The Road Not Taken.

1 eventually successful attempt to locate the wooded 38-acre parcel on Long Neck Point that once belonged to my family and is almost unrecognizably (and thus, achingly) over-developed, but still bears the family name and looks out over the Indian River Bay which was my foundational experience of silence.

Love, Part III. Cancer of the Heart

Because I left so little space within my travel days, my heart came to me, after midnight, in a hotel room, just off the highway, through my dreams.

A beautiful half-moon curve–freshly carved, into my left breast—tender, swollen, reddened—but more than likely healing.

So many times I’ve been told that I didn’t love “right.”

(Haven’t we all!)

And yet, my heart hollers back:

ALL evidence to the contrary…!

Haven’t you loved the same man for 32 years.

Haven’t you raised 2 amazing sons with whom you share the same abiding love, mutual respect & fierce boundaries.

And what of the friendships that still flower to this day, those begun 40 (forty!) years ago, and what about those emerging & unfolding even now.

And what of the generations of students & companions—in the classroom, on the mat, on the page.

And what of your youth—POURED into the parenting gap left by trauma, narcissism & addiction–into the lives half-dozen+ younger siblings until, one by one, they too came of age.

YOU, Kelly KNOW how to LOVE!

“That’s right!” I respond, “I do!”

And love is not only proximity, my heart replies.

Sometimes love is leaving space.
Sometimes love is letting go.
Sometimes love is feeling YES and stamping NO.

‘Yes, I love you,’ and ‘No, you may not traipse across the terrain of my tender heart just because you are lost.’

Yes, ‘Your happiness is my happiness,’ and Yes, ‘Your heartache is my heartache,’ but ‘No, my heart cannot serve as the safe house for the projection of your unmet needs, your scarcities, fears, and grief.

Which is to say that I find myself in unfamiliar territory, no doubt in large part due to the passage from Mother to Menopause which arrives on the precipice of an Empty Nest, and returns my heart to its original and departing purpose— loving—me.

“But aren’t you afraid of going to hell?” I was once asked.

“How can I be afraid of something in which I do not believe?” I replied.

Which is to say that there is a mythology of love and abandonment to which I no longer wish to subscribe.

Love is never absent.

Love ABIDES.

Love, Part II. Portal

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
Faulkner

Mile marker 69 and the portals open, sensing the proximity of the past.

One by one the memories come, like waves, leaving bits and pieces of story behind, like broken shells.

“No wonder everyone drinks here,” I say, at mile marker 63, feeling the undertow of my youth.

Who decides which memory comes?

Is there some alchemy of sky and scent and age?

If I took your hand in mine, would we jump?

Could we survive?