I Never Expected my Life to Turn Out this Way
I meet so many people who say to me “I never expected my life to turn out this way”. Whether it be, they thought they would be married by 30, have everything sorted by 40, dealing with broken relationships, broken hearts, suffering from wayward children, illness or an accident and so the list goes on.
For me, I never expected to find myself single at 64, feeling fearful of growing older at times and thinking what’s the point of it all, this event called Life.
Today I am sitting in a funky cafe called Primo, in Methven, a ski town in New Zealand while writing this. Maria, the owner, has collected everything there is to it would seem. Pre-loved furniture, clothes, knick knacks, children’s games, records and she has made them look beautiful and cherished in a most artistic way. She looks as if she is in her sixties and has lead an interesting life! She cooks beautiful food too if ever you are visiting Methven.
Just before this, I was in the ski shop getting my boots attended too. A young mother came in with her little girl giving out chocolates and muffins to anyone who wanted them. Her little girl told me it was random acts of kindness day. Yesterday on the ski slopes I was taking a break because I had sore shins (caused by a ski boot problem). I noticed a woman sitting next to me who was talking to herself. She began to speak to me. She told me she had a brain injury, was on some medication that made her ‘hyped up’. I told her about my sore shins, and she produced a gel pack that she had in her bag. She gave it to me to put on my sore shin which helped considerably. I enjoyed another two hours of skiing without the distraction of my sore shin.
These offers of kindness from others encouraged me to believe in the goodness of life just a little, albeit fleetingly. To believe that ‘life will be good to me’ has been something that I have struggled with very much since the break up of a significant intimate relationship fourteen months ago. I am here to reclaim my skiing self on the slopes of Mt Hutt in New Zealand after this breakup. I was here with my ex-partner two years ago. I first met him here, skiing, nineteen years ago. Time to bury him in the snow!
I wrote the following poem to mark the occasion.
Skiing at Mt Hutt
This mountain has soul for me.
Something about her magnificent peaks
the white of the snow
the magic of the late afternoon sun
gliding down her slopes of white icing sugar
where nothing else matters but
me, the crisp cool air, skiing
and my ability to move with grace and elegance.
My body moving in such a sensual way
at sixty plus is something to be celebrated
Not all my age keep on with such a vigorous sport.
I have come back to a mountain I shared with him
to reclaim ‘me’
A courageous act. I take a photo
rip it up in tiny pieces and bury him in the snow.
A fitting act in the circumstances.
Is that a flicker of joy I feel?
The point of this story is life doesn’t turn out the way we expect it too. In spite of this, there are also random acts of kindness to be treasured such as the little girl with muffins and chocolates and my kind friend who offered me the gel pack, in spite of her difficulties and challenges.
There is the opportunity to reclaim ourselves, pull our energy back from whatever has befallen us, stand in our power and rise yet again, in this complex business called Life. I am mindful however that this piece of encouragement is not so easy to apply to those of us who are suffering war, famine or torture in many parts of our world. However, even then, we have heroes to inspire us such as Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, our Jewish brothers and sisters and many others who suffer injustice at the hands of what one would call ‘evil’. Such heroes continue to stand for their integrity and values even amid grave and terrible suffering.
Glib words do not suffice. There is no ‘happy ever after’. There is only courage, tenacity and resilience learnt from the challenges and difficulties we encounter. Hopefully, woven somewhere within these attributes, we also learn the art of compassion for each other. I often think, where would I be without the grace of compassionate companionship when I feel vulnerable and afraid. I hope you can find that in your life also, as well as be the compassionate companion to others when required.