Friday, January 7, 2011

Fortyness - In the Thickness of Life

Many of you know that I have returned to school and am working on a communication degree. One of the concepts that is prominent in the scholarly world of communication is the idea of thick descriptions. This idea is that life is understood by the self and others through a myriad of factors...not just the straight forward aspects that are visible. It has to do with context, history, relationships, culture.... there is a lot of thickness to swim through to get to understanding.

I think that this time of life -fortyness, is much like that. It is thick.

By this time we all can probably feel the resistance as we wade through life. We have all probably encountered some bad things. We have had to navigate through trials, loss, and change. Sometimes the outcomes were for the better, and sometimes they were not. Each negative experience impacts how we see, act out and understand the lives we have.

But, this time can feel thick even when things are going well. Even in the great events of life, it may seem like more energy is expended through our emotions and actions. We are so grateful for the good things, yet we "feel" the impact of those great events. We ponder them more, reflect on them more and incorporate them into our view of the world.

Be it negative or positive, each experience increases the viscosity of our daily existence. Our understanding and movement through our fortyness is impacted as each experience alters the context, the history, the relationships and the culture that we exist in. Things that in our twenetyness would seem trite and unimportant, now carry more weight and credibility. Conversely, things that seemed huge in our twenties, are now understood to be simply the life exercises that have given us the stamina to trudge through the thickness of life.

So, what are we to do as we drag ourselves through the resistance of this thickness? Do we look at it as an impediment? Or do we see it as a protective and helpful tension that causes us to slow down and understand life a bit more? In our fortyness, I propose that however we view the thickness, we should not let it weigh us down. Instead, we should understand it as a part of our being in this time of life. Everything that has contributed to it is a part of the narrative that makes us who we are.