A friend of mine died this week. I don’t know if I’ll ever become accustomed to people dying, especially when someone succumbs unexpectedly, as he did.
When someone passes it prompts us to reflect on what’s important. Loved ones always appear at the top of that list. We become more appreciative of the gifts around us: a friend’s call, a sunny day, fresh-baked cookies, a child’s laughter, a warm hug, a beautiful sunset, a full moon rising.
It also helps us put things in perspective. For example, this week I struggle whether to surrender to a strong attraction and let myself fall into intimacy. One pal’s advice: “Wait to go there. All good things take time.”
But what if there is no time? Who knows when something will happen to any of us? Shouldn’t life be embraced fully and savored? Are you an eat-dessert-first kind of gal or wait-and-enjoy-it-in-time? I am a bit of both, but find myself becoming more of the former.
Yesterday, Christine wrote a comment that I was “fearless.” Often when people point out what they perceive as my courage, I don’t see it as such. (See “Courage and Dating.”) I’m merely acting from the question, “What are my options?” I have the option to date or not. While I can entertain myself or with pals, there’s nothing like the embrace and kiss of someone who enchants you. I’m not willing to live without that for long. So I get “dated up” and have coffee dates with men who seem interesting and intelligent. Most end up just as coffee dates, but some become more.
Jane Juska’s book A Round-Heeled Woman: My Late-Life Adventures in Sex and Romance helped shift my perspective. (She put an ad in The NY Review of Books which read “Before I turn 67 — next March — I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like.”) In her book she describes how she wanted to experience the pleasure a man’s caress and seduction before she got too old to enjoy it. It made me see that I’d made arbitrary rules based on my fears and doubts, not on living life passionately.
Are there rules you’ve made about dating that need reassessing? Perhaps the rule was made after a painful experience and has limited your living fully because of fear of being hurt. Life and love are full of hurts. Hopefully, the pleasures far outweigh them. You can’t prevent all hurts by rules. But rules can prevent your embracing life. If you’ve closed your heart how can anyone get close enough to love you?
Imagine you only had a year or two to live. How would you live and love differently? Would you allow yourself to be open to loving fully?
A few years ago my friend remarried in his late fifties to a wonderful woman who adored him. He enjoyed her devotion and love for him and she shined in his. Now he is gone. If he had not opened his heart and allowed himself to love and be loved, he would have died without experiencing this midlife passion.
Take off any shackles that hold you back. If you need some therapy to let go of your fears, call a professional now. You never know how long you have.