Bruised bumpers and the Blues

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”  – Sophia Loren

A few events over the past week brought me to this “A-ha!” moment: With age comes wisdom.

Heading to lunch with my husband, I was busy reading email on my phone when a huge thud jarred me: figuratively and literally. Some debris, either from the car in front of us – or kicked up by said car – walloped our front bumper. Talk about being shaken.

It was then I realized that my calmness, as well as my husband’s, was a sign of the times. In our younger days, we would’ve been madder than a wet hen at the young driver. She was completely oblivious to the fact that either she hit something or lost a large part of her car. With her tiny dog in her lap, I noticed the dents and dings in her car. She was completely unphased, and we couldn’t get her attention – as hard as we tried – to let her know what happened.

I didn’t even think to yell or scream at her. Maybe I envisioned one of my own children, having car trouble that could cause a major incident, and hoping that an encounter with another driver would be educational and not dangerous. Even when we reached our destination and looked at the damage, we were both surprisingly calm. Back in the day, not only would we rant and rave, we’d wring our hands and wonder how we’d pay for this mess, that was no fault of our own. Instead, we were thankful it didn’t break the light-housing or come flying through the windshield, which would surely caused injury to one or both of us.

With age comes wisdom.

Last weekend, we had the opportunity to attend an art gallery opening. The featured artist, whom we never met, is the husband of a colleague and friend of mine. She and I chat several times a week online and meet for coffee when we can. To be able to see her husband’s incredible art was a moment in our lives that we felt truly blessed to be able to share – alongside them and many others.

Exactly a week later, we had another great opportunity. Our neighbor and friend has been in the fight of her life. Diagnosed with a very aggressive, late-stage form of breast cancer, this woman has been a courageous inspiration for many. And just as it seemed that surgery, chemo and radiation had done their job, the bad news came. This fighter now had to face even more extensive surgery, just as she thought she had gotten back to her life. After six weeks of healing, doctor appointments and rest, this trooper was on back stage last night. And we were in awe. I firmly believe that The Blues were written for her to sing. Confident, smiling and blowing us away, she beat the crap out her cancer, and we were there to watch her comeback gig – completely in awe of her amazing talent. Who knew that this tiny little powerhouse could sing?!

But the most amazing thing happened after both of these events – and it was the humbled response of these artists. While we were so thankful for being invited to share in one of the most memorable moments of their lives, they thanked us for attending!

Hmmm…I think I am beginning to get it.

With age comes wisdom.

Back in the day, when I was a younger woman and desperately trying to seek fame and fortune through my writing, my focus was completely wrong. Please don’t take this as a judgement call, but in our twenties, many of us embraced our gifts as “ours.” We didn’t share – we had what I will call an arrogant talent. What will my talent get me? Some of us foolishly pitched that gift when it didn’t bring us the income or fame we thought it should.

Additionally, some of us shelved that talent when we started having families and felt pursuing a dream was a waste of time when there were kids to raise and an income to earn.

But as we got closer to or reached that half-century mark, the talent that was buried for various reasons began to sprout back to life. Maybe because we now have more time to nurture it, but maybe, I think, we have just come to realize how important that gift is.

We realize how fast time is ticking. I think, too, that we become confident in our place in life. Maybe we are a little less shy in sharing certain aspects of our lives.  Seeing that life has smacked all of us around by the time we hit this age makes us more humbled for sure, and most often, kinder to others. We have felt the sting of loss;  whether it was a job, a house, a loved one, or health. We embrace good news, and to celebrate accomplishments and talents of those around gives us time to pause from the mundane and experience joy.

We also change our attitudes when it comes to our talents. Instead of wondering what we get from it, we are more concerned about what others get from it. Our motives don’t revolve around making it big – they revolve around making a difference.

Will Doug’s gift of art inspire someone to experience the smell of paint and the feel of a brush meeting canvas? Will Annie’s gifted voice inspire someone to sing, take a dance class or play piano? Most likely, yes. But the biggest gift of all came from these artists sharing themselves – putting themselves out there for all to see. To bare their souls, not because they are awesome (which they are), but because of their choice to share their gifts with others.

God has graciously gifted everyone. Some have the gift of art, music, photography and such. Others have the gift of service; some have the gift of teaching. Still others can build and repair anything. Then there are others that can turn ordinary grocery items into the most extraordinary meals. Or grow beautiful flowers and delicious produce.

Our gifts are endless.

No one could have ever convinced me that going into decade number five would be one of the best times in my life. And, admittedly, there are days I long to be in my twenties again. (Sometimes it is because I long to see myself minus the little wrinkles forming around my eyes, or so I can wear short shorts because I’m not sporting these awesome varicose veins!) Seriously, though, revisiting my twenties is more because of my want to go back in time and smack that twenty-something me in the head, then bestow upon her all this wealth and knowledge and insight that I have today.

With age comes wisdom.

Here’s to settling down and not flying off the handle over the little things in life. Here’s to enjoying your older, wiser self. Here’s to sharing with others. And if you are burying that talent, unearth it today. I double dog-dare you to share that God-given gift of yours with others. In doing so, you will experience a joy that can’t be described.

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

22 Replies to “Bruised bumpers and the Blues”

  1. I am proud to know you, Lynne Cobb! Were your ears burning this afternoon while I talked about you in the car as we drove north this weekend? And that was before I read this. (All good, singing your praises, I promise.) Thanks for sharing this. Well said and it resonates and means more to us than you know. xxoo

      1. Thank you — much appreciated! And I meant to add, in agreement with your post, that sharing our talents and experience through teaching or mentoring is one of the most enjoyable aspects of aging. I wish more people would try it. When I teach writing classes, I have (almost) as much fun as I do when I am crafting a piece of writing or artwork. I love to see new writers discover the pleasures of the process — and I am thrilled when they get published. Sadly, too many “older or experienced” folks I know have a “shortage mentality,” or are too competitive to share — out of fear of losing ground (or clients).

        1. I agree – I think we gain more in so many ways when we share our talents, which is why I think your classes are so successful 🙂

  2. Lynne – I really enjoyed reading this piece. I agree that it is all to often that we tend to leave our talents buried and fail to share them with others. I’m finally starting to realize this and am attempting to take some action to correct it. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. It was truly thought provoking. I’m making a late start at sharing some of my creativity. Thank you for the nudges you have given. All I can say is Amen and Amen!

  3. This is great, Lynn! My husband and I are in E. Lansing this week-end; looking around at the college kids in the bar/pub where we ate, we thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could be 20, 21 again knowing what we know today? But it doesn’t work that way. Very true that we get more patient, wise, understanding as we age. Hopefully, we feel less inhibited about recognizing and sharing our talents, too!

  4. That wisdom brought about a major life epiphany for me at the ripe age of 51. So too…here’s to unearthing, sharing, and experiencing the joy!

    1. Oh yes, Jennifer, the phones are truly a menace on the road! Don’t get me wrong…I went on a tear with that issue, too!! (httpssss://lynnecobb.com/to-the-gal-who-almost-side-swiped-me/). This time, it was a tiny little dog, and probably a blaring radio, that had the driver distracted. Woof.

  5. I got stuck on “her tiny dog on her lap”
    My sister in law’s best friend lost her tiny dog when she hit something and the airbag went off. Dog in lap. Dead dog in lap. Our dog rides in back in his carrier. He’s also tiny.
    Clueless in so many ways. Sigh
    Carol Cassara recently posted…Life is full of losses large and smallMy Profile

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