You better let go if you're getting old

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By Mary Kay O'Grady

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Ken Trainor nailed it in his one of his column on turning sixty, or should I say he hit it out of the men's room, which he'll be visiting more frequently as he grows older. I agree with him on most of what he said, such as his "share of regrets and joys," stored in a memory that "can no longer be entirely trusted." Amen to that.
 
I loved his analysis that "All of us are the sum of our experiences, the quality of the physical and mental 'equipment' we were blessed (or burdened) with, our life decisions (great and small), the circumstances we find ourselves in, the character we've cultivated, and sheer dumb luck (or, if you prefer, divine providence)." (I don't prefer.) 
 
Let me say first that at seventy-two, Ken, I would kill to be sixty again. Regrettably, I'm almost sure I'd make the same mistakes I made in the past twelve years and maybe in the preceding sixty years and for the exact reasons you cite above. I went to Paris for the first time when I was sixty and loved it so much that I went five times in the next ten years, but spent a lot of money that I need now. 
 
I'm slowly learning to let go of both the good stuff, like nuzzling my newborn babies and grandchildren, and the bad stuff, like heartbreaking losses. Much of the good stuff will never be repeated, and I think it's unwise to dwell on that fact. Knowing I'm forgetting some of it doesn't make me sad; I try to picture each memory as a beautiful veil to be unwound and set loose in the breeze. 
 
It's tough to let go of the things other people have done to you. However, at least as an adult, those things happened largely with my complicity, consciously or unconsciously, or as Ken would say, because of my "physical and mental equipment" at any given time.  It's not fun to think about, but the truth can make you free - or at least freer.
 
Letting go of what I have done to other people is very, very painful. It's like getting out of a wet bathing suit, (men won't get this) over and over again, as in the movie Groundhog Day. It's harder than it looks and what I see in the mirror is not what I used to see. And it never will be again.
 
I love the fact that I can keep learning as I grow older, not just from books, theatre, and Charlie Rose, but in my interactions with other people. Probably the most important thing I keep learning is to "let it be," and that is by no means easy, no matter what John Lennon and Paul McCartney say. 
 
Try on this passage from Roethke's The Waking:

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

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cynthia breunlin  

Posted: July 1st, 2012 10:01 AM

Lovely. You 'met Ken' and enhanced the encounter. I recommend the poems of Mary Oliver; her love of the natural world, and birds in particular often capture the essence of letting go in order to soar.

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