Niagara Gazette

Features

March 31, 2013

JOYRIDE: Can vulnerability be key to happiness?

Niagara Gazette — There is a monster in my sight these days and I am working hard to vanquish it, stabbing away with my swords of optimism and reason. It is, however, putting up a powerful fight.

The monster that threatens my peacefulness is something that Americans don’t like to talk about much — but it’s something each of us must deal with. Our lives depend on our ability to do it well. I’m talking about looking into a future that holds weakness and vulnerability, the kind that crushed my father and now seems to be threatening my agile, full-of-attitude, 83-year-old mother.  I’m talking about getting old. 

At every stage in my life I have participated enthusiastically in the possibilities for the rebirth of myself.  Marriage. Parenthood. Career changes.  Every change in circumstance has offered me the chance to consider who I am and who I want to be. But, this mid-life stage I’m at is dangerously close to a time when a happy ending cannot as likely be constructed by good luck and hard work.  

All the great spiritual masters say acceptance of things as they are is the secret to a happy life, but how does one surrender to decline? It’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Surprisingly, I’ve never given it much thought before. Death does not scare me. Decline does.

Today is Easter, the holiday in which millions of Christians celebrate the return to life of God’s son after his death on the cross. His message promises eternal life. Yet, even those who most devoutly believe must be challenged by the thoughts of their own last road.

As for me, I’ve always liked to research things before they happen. When I got pregnant the first time, I borrowed armloads of maternity books from the library. Marriage meant relationship research. 

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