by Marcia Feola
My whole life has been striving for a never-ending series of milestones. The milestones included such things as when will I turn 13? 21? Get married? Have a baby? Get a job? etc. I have always been in the mode of getting to the next achievement. Then I turned 70 in April (gifts are still welcome) and it all unraveled. Never before had I reacted so badly to a birthday.
Turning 70 hit me hard. I could not even admit I was seventy. I could not see the next “goal.” There seemed nothing to look forward to. My thoughts focused on my feelings of being too old and my fear of being useless. I saw myself heading for the grave.
Having been trained in somatics and embodiment, I used my training to observe myself and decided to turn around and look back. I saw the journey I had been on more clearly. It was driven in large part by the influences of the culture in which I was raised, family expectations, school, etc. Some might say I was on automatic, following a prescribed path. At that moment I saw that I had not really lived with a deep appreciation for life or the true beauty of this world. How many moments had gone by without stopping to look at the sunset, or appreciate the warmth of the sun, the laughter of my children, and holding my mom’s hand as she died? I was too busy getting somewhere to notice where I was.
Ah-the gift of 70. Standing at the imaginary edge of my grave I saw the beauty of just being in the moment. I don’t have to achieve anything. I don’t need any more stuff (though I still like stuff). I don’t need to learn a lot more before I can say I have wisdom. I can just relish the moment-to-moment experience of being alive. 70 has allowed me to cherish each moment and appreciate who I am now.
Why do I tell this personal story? Because you don’t have to wait to be 70 to free yourself. I have learned that we are all on paths that were largely constructed by the life experiences we have had and by the people and institutions that have trained us. You may feel that “programming” in yourself. It might show up as questions about such as: Am I being authentic? Am I doing what I really want to do? Or perhaps you just feel dissatisfied or frustrated. If this sounds familiar, don’t wait until you are 70—give yourself the gift of freedom now by joining us in Leadership’s Untapped Resource: Body Intelligence.