The Liberation of a Midlife Mind
Forty arrived for me this year in dramatic fashion, bringing with it an unanticipated synthesis of experience in which I found my conventional beliefs to be wonderfully irrelevant. Suddenly, I see beyond the limits of all the ideals I so long held as true – for myself, in my relationships, for the world in which I live.
During the thirty-something gestational period of my newly birthed midlife maturity, I experienced suffering and pleasure in profound measure. People I loved died; some tragically. I struggled, and grew, in marriage, and in my personal faith; I fulfilled a lifelong dream and enrolled in college. My body is changing; I learned to live through injury and effect healing. I gained heightened confidence in my abilities, and achieved many things I once believed unattainable.
I suspect a benevolent universal conspiracy is at work, moving me through these events in succinct order so that unimaginable suffering is somehow transformed into overwhelming joy. But the unexpected prize is the constant turning over of my beliefs, an extraordinary evolution of what I think and know, and the humbling realization that I get it wrong, too; that my beliefs, based as they are on events, exchanges, ponderings, and external influence, don’t necessarily reflect the truth.
For instance, I long believed that my body’s autonomous functioning required little conscious attention, and would perpetually maintain itself. I also believed that its other than supermodel countenance was a flaw that somehow diminished my self-worth. The truth, of course, is that my human body is a biological wonder, constantly interacting with the world around me. Indeed greatly autonomous, my body optimally functions with loving care and conscious attention to its processes and needs. The anatomical miracle that is my body doesn’t rely on a socially constructed aesthetic for its worth – the truth is, my body’s value is inherent in its creation.
Another of these liberating midlife revelations is the notion that I’ve consistently judged others in the context of my own beliefs. Generally unable to discern my own truth, I am uniquely unqualified to form a belief about the truth of another.
No aspect of my being is free from participation in this perennial unraveling of belief and re-weaving of truth into knowing. It would seem that belief is just a stepping stone on the path of my life, and perhaps, at times, even an obstacle. To dis-believe is to unbound myself from the chains of limitation, to see things anew, to glimpse the authentic truth buried under the weight of my contrived convictions. Suspending belief has become the sacred act of liberating my midlife mind, and opening my heart to a world of ceaseless possibility.
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