Today is the longest day of this year -- Summer Solstice. Within a week I will be heading to a Fire Island beach for a family reunion, staying in the same community where I spent many summers as a child -- my parents actually met each other there.
As I think about the walks, jogs on the beach, the sandy push-ups we will do together, the sand castles we will build with grandchildren, the frisbees we will throw, the good conversations we will have, and food prepared and saavored together, I am filled with gratitude. Here is my solstice wish for you: May you have enjoyable summer days -- long, delicious, some leisurely, some active, some reflective -- full of flow, grace, pleasure, awareness, joy.
But back to running on the beach. This year, actually, for the first time in my life, I may not be able to do the kind of free, full-on, carefree running I would like to.
Why? Well, my body says, 'No. That's not smart -- not anymore." When I let that sink in, considerable sadness arises... I could rage at aging... That, however, is another topic. How to be with the inevitable shifts that come with passing years and aging bodies...We'll come back to that sometime! What I'd like to look at more closely here, though, is the notion of 'Use It or Lose It.'
One of the essays in BECOMING explores the material in depth. Maybe you'd like to have a look :-) I find that 'use it or lose it' has validity in many areas, physical, mental, emotional, and not the least, in the spiritual dimension as well.
What also interests me, however, is the motivation behind the question. Who and what says, 'Use it or lose it!' to us? Is it some inner critic, gremlin, or super ego, menacing, harsh and unforgiving -- based in fear or negativity? For most of us this might be the case, at least sometimes. Just listen for a moment to the tone of voice -- its inflection and quality will be a dead give-away! Is it the critic? If so, blow it off. Just say no! :-) That's not what any of us needs! (Years of personal work go into this, but when we can actually say 'Be Gone' to our inner critics, we've won a big victory!)
It might however be a voice that says, 'What a day-to day' affair life is!' (Jules Laforgue), a voice that rings with enthusiasm, which exhorts us to 'Go for it, Live it up, enjoy and relish life to the hilt!' Even if it doesn't make sense to run full-out any more...there are beach walks at dawn or dusk, yoga in the sand. And tennis with the grandchildren, that should work! :-)
You get the gist. While I believe that 'use it or lose it' is clearly true -- it applies to sexuality, empathic communication, concentration and awareness, patience, memory, muscles, hearing (to name just a few) -- we truly don't need to take it from the critic.
While I am not in charge of life, or the way it unfolds and changes, I am part of, and actually, one with, the flow. I do not control it, yet my personal choices have implications and consequences. Every day I can listen to the kinder, gentler voice and see what choices it might suggest to me that day -- to treasure and value, preserve and enjoy. the temple that are my body and mind for this section of the journey.
Someone who is clearly going for the gusto is Suzann Kingston -- a feisty Vancouver author who writes and blogs about body image and being fully alive. She'd had a fall on her roller blades, Mike helped her up, (read about it here!), and we started talking, right there on the sea wall. It was a tingling conversation, and we are pleased at the new connection.
If you are intrigued by the 'use it or lose it' challenge, consider these Questions for Reflection: What affect does 'use it or lose it' have on you, primarily: does it create fear and negativity, or inspiration and enthusiasm? In what areas of your life in particular does it make sense to 'use it'? What are some dimensions and facets of your life in which you are willing to invest time and energy to maintain, and around which it might be just fine to become more loose?
Right now a moment of time is passing by! We must become that moment," Paul Cezanne