What I Know
Purpose is more profound than a call, job, or even a vocation. It’s a poetic way-finder, trouble-maker, and life-loving sensibility. In David Whyte’s words, it’s where “all the elements of our life and our inheritance join and make a meeting,”
As I head into my seventh decade, into what some call retirement, I am curious about my life purpose: “to foster freedom for myself, playmates, and others.” In every season, a new restlessness rises. I need to check in anew with how I am living from purpose.
Freedom is usually attributed to the creatively daring, youthful, athletic, politically active, and rebellious. Me? My right knee often screams when I pivot. I’m drawn to quietly practice an art form that is new to me but pretty basic in the world. Bold and Rebellious? Do people care about what an older white woman thinks or creates? I know I do.
I know my life embraces the freedom of new, paradigm-changing voices. I know I offer shoulders to stand on when asked.
I unwaveringly hold a banner for civil liberties and the right to dignity for every soul and element on our planet. With that banner, I dance.
I know I sometimes suck at freedom. I retract or puff up in the presence of conflict. I forget that I take up space others might need to breathe. At least I know these truths more freely.
Fostering freedom as an elder means increasingly creating room for human beings and their choices, despite what I’ve experienced. Fostering freedom heightens the challenge of bringing my vulnerable flesh to embrace organic life, stay kooky, laugh without concern, curtsy to whimsy, suffer out loud, and create, create, create.
Fostering freedom is, for me, about recognizing the power of soul in body, with eyes and heart wide open. It’s about being free from thinking that death is the end or the worst thing possible.
Fostering freedom is about consciously allowing suffering and joy in myself and others. It is also about respecting the limits of my ability to endure suffering.
Finally, and most importantly, freedom is about claiming that I think and live as an artist, freely human.
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