Monday, December 1, 2014

A Stronger You

Do you think about strength?  What characterizes strength for you?  Is it toned muscles?  Is it resilience and the ability to rebound from exertion?  Could it possibly be flexibility and the capacity to adapt to new challenges?

Today in my morning pages, I noted that three times in the last two days my eye has been drawn to articles about strength.  They had clickworthy titles like "15 Things Strong People NEVER Do", "This Is How You Can Become a Stronger Version of Yourself", or "15 Things Strong People ALWAYS Do".

Apparently my inner wimpiness has somehow connected with the algorithms of the internets and called this kind of self-improvement material to my laptop.  It remains a matter or mystery to me how it got here, but this I know:

Sooner or later we all confront losing strength.

Muscle mass shrinks with aging.  Mental processes lag a little.  Joints wear. We fear every instance of absent-mindedness.  Even our ability to roll with the punches can flag as we become less adaptive to changing conditions.  (More set in my ways, I am.  I know, I know.  I still play CD's)

It is now December 1st, one month away from 15 years into the new century.  15 years ago, what were you doing?  Were you freaking out that your computer, your digital watch, your flip-top cell phone would crash?  (It's okay, everyone did, because Y2K)  Fin du siecle stuff compounded by not enough digits in everyone's computers.

I recall having very different ideas back then about living life.  I had not yet completed the Artist's Way.  I was still living in Salt Lake City, working for the Presbyterian Church and studying at seminary.  I was single, raising my two sons.  I lived 20 minutes from my mother.  I worked out at the fitness center 5 minutes from my house.

Except for the fact that I was broke all the time, worked about 50 hours a week, didn't have an art practice, and was deeply lonely, life was just fine.

As we're staring down the barrel of 2015, I recall how strong and invincible it felt to be me back then. Funny the difference a mere 15 years can make!

I realize that, as 2015 comes closer, I am redefining strength for myself and reevaluating its significance as I plan and imagine how I want to move through and experience the coming years.

When stripped down to its muscular essence, being strong seems more about wisdom, health, and adaptability than about independence, power, or achieving goals.  It seems that the process in which one engages, the decisions one takes, and the relationships one cultivates have a lot to do with it too.

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