We never lose our power. Some of us misplace it or believe it’s diminished over time. The truth is that we’re all essentially the same person we were in childhood. Life weakens and fortifies us. We crawl out of the mud and bask in the light of our accomplishments. And we all break, but most of us mend. We recover from setbacks and illnesses of the mind and body. We may not seem the same on the surface, and we may develop a few gnarly habits. Nevertheless, our power is in us.
All the strength you need to survive and thrive is in you. A lot of people believe our capacity fades over time. And truth be told, many of our friends and family feel the same way. The collective message is daunting. When you paddle hard through middle age, you might forget what you are capable of. You may not be as fast as you used to be and you may regularly forget things, but deep down you’re still 100% you. No less, maybe more.
Being a tortoise, instead of a hare, seems like a good thing now. Wisdom and persistence are a winning combination. My Aunt Kay always beat me in tennis because she knew where to place the ball. No amount of lung capacity or agility could overcome her acquired-over-time skill at lobbing the ball to the back line or a foot from the net. She started playing tennis in her thirties. I started playing tennis when I eight-years-old.
Realizing that I have the power I had in my youth is a revelation. I unearthed it courtesy of being tossed like a rowboat in a storm. So many things unraveled this year. At my lowest point, I realized that I was still the person who forged her own way, set goals with a singleness of purpose, and rarely entertained failure.
In my fifties, while my contemporaries were empowered by aging, I focused more on failure than achievement. I sat, and even laid down, in all the rotten expectations for women. Vitality, youthful beauty, a slim body, fashionable attire, and a narrow view of what it means to achieve. Also, I completely missed the memo about letting go of insecurities in your fifties even though I read plenty of reflections in popular magazines about women who were liberated in middle age. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen to me. I felt inferior.
At age 61, as a result of some serious setbacks, I found the power I desperately needed. I couldn’t believe it was still there or that I ever let it go. Life’s trials haven’t necessarily made me a better person. A little bit better, but they have made me strong. I feel it when I shake off petty insults and make decisions with confidence. And when I put the worst news in the proper perspective.
Now, for some confessions. These are a few of the regrettable things I’ve done when my power was dialed low by outside forces. I regret getting Botox treatments three times. I’m sorry applied dangerously old mascara rather than none at all or wore shoes that hurt because they looked good. I wish I never checked the size of someone’s engagement ring, always, or noted the brand of car he or she drove, always. And I feel stupid for believing that people with blue-chip degrees were extra smart. Most of all, I deeply regret not spending more time with people who are different than me. I would have learned so much more about being and living.
I probably have a decent amount of time left for improvement. It should be a little bit easier now that my power is back.