‘…how rich, how marvellous*, how alive’

Henri Matisse - The Parakeet and the Mermaid 1952 (detail)Some of the saddest things I’ve ever heard started with the phrase “No, I’m too old to…”

I suppose you could argue that if someone takes that perspective then they’re right, they are too old, but I’ve actually heard 30-somethings, 20-somethings, and even children use the phrase (or some variation)!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still grounded in reality.
I have long been a proponent of reaching for the stars but I’ve also recognized that the likelihood I’ll actually grasp one just ain’t in the cards.

I won’t actually grasp one of those celestial beauties?
So what?

I work with people everyday who define what they want to see in their lives and then plan the steps to get there.
I’ve seen small incremental steps and I’ve seen huge, wild leaps, and I applaud them both.

The crucial element that makes that small goal a natural for one person and the huge goal just as reasonable for another, is not the degree of creativity each exhibits, it’s the amount of energy they are able and willing to bring to bear at this specific point in their life.

There are times when we are brimming over with energy, you can feel it crackling and the sheer excitement of being near it is a thrill – it’s easy to think of that as living fully when we bring it on like that.
There are also times that all the energy we have could fit in a thimble.
But if we take that thimble-full and use it whole-heartedly in support of our vision, we have succeeded in living fully just as well.

Conventional “wisdom” tells us from our early thirties onward we’re on an inevitable decline.
Look at heart rate targets or body composition charts and you’d think you’d seen scientific proof of how we decline, but I say that’s sticker price stuff – nobody pays that but the rubes.

Our life energy isn’t a linear thing that grows, peaks, and then declines.
Our energy is a complex part of who we are, as much a physical thing as it is emotional or spiritual. It ebbs and flows, not like the tide which can be predicted but subtly and wildly, depending on many factors, not the least of which being our ability to be present and aware.

The quote that I used as the title of this post is from a review of a recent exhibition at the Tate Modern in London (* hence the spelling) – Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs. When Matisse was too ill to continue painting in his later years he began ‘cutting into colour’ and produced works which evoked that praise. I remember seeing those works many years ago with my sister Elle and she marveled at Matisse’s ability to create and communicate through this unusual medium. I doubt at that time I fully understood his accomplishment.

My sister is gone now, as is my brother, but here I am struggling with learning to live life on terms that I set, not those that are seemingly thrust upon me.

So, I believe I get to make a choice: accept a place in a world of diminishing possibilities, or create one that is rich, marvelous, and alive.

That is the credo I would offer my younger sister, my children and grandchildren…create the place in the world you want.

About zolfw

I am an avid trail runner and fitness enthusiast, an accomplished cook, a lover of cinema and literature (although I read everything from graphic novels to professional psychology tomes, neither extreme being literature in the strict sense) . I am a retired Health and Wellness Coach. I am a husband, father, grandfather, and uncle.
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