A starting point.
You know how all of us have that image of that open highway stretched out to infinity before you, beckoning to a future somewhere out on that horizon? All that you will become lies out there.
In my twenties, I was an idealistic young woman with stars in my eyes about making it big. How bad can that be, right?
Turning 30 was awesome too! I was living in sunny Dubai. Teaching art and making my own too. I became a mum. Life was good.
Even 40 was great. I had moved to a better part of the city, with the husband and son. There was money to spend. I was still teaching art.
I am supposed to have accomplished my life’s greatest work by now, right? Achieved all my major goals. Changed the world. But what if I am still working on that? What if I am only starting to figure out what I’m really supposed to be doing with my life?
You can say many things about turning 50, but one thing you can’t say is that you still have your whole life in front of you. At this point in the journey, life has shown you many of its cards. Not all, mind you, but you’ve got a pretty good grasp on how the world turns. If there are still any surprises, they have mostly to do with learning to change the way you see things.
Much as I hated to admit it, I found that I was looking around and comparing myself to my peers.
When you view life this way, there’s always going to be someone who you feel is ahead of you by your own estimate. And you’ll never catch up to them. So that leaves you feeling behind in some imaginary race that can’t be won.
And when the game is comparing yourself to others, you will never have enough. Ever.
I believed that if I can just obtain that (figure of money in the bank, job title, certain car) that I will have arrived at my destination and will find happiness there.
But I didn’t. Because it’s not out there. Not in any material thing.
So how do I break out of this?
Well first, I needed to learn how to let go of a lot of my preconceived notions about where I thought I would be by the time I reached 50.
Ultimately, I found the answer in my practice of art as therapy and my morning pages. Thank you, Julia Cameron.
Through my art and writing my morning pages, I learnt how to be in the present. Most of us never learn to appreciate where we are at this very moment because we’re so focused on what happened (or didn’t happen) in a past that no longer exists and worried about a future that hasn’t happened yet.
The next thing I did was to review my life and my experiences to figure out what was working and what was not. This brought me face to face with a rather harsh reality.
As much as I like to think of myself to be a caring person, I realized that I’d spent most of my career focused on my own self-interests. Sure, I spent a lot of time making art, which is something very personal that you put out into the universe in the hopes that you will connect with an audience and make them feel something. But it turns out the giving was conditional. The focus was all wrong.
And that’s when I realized what had been gnawing away at me all these years. It was a yearning to connect with an audience in a meaningful way that focuses on helping them. On supporting them to find joy in their creative process.
And so, at age 50 plus, I am only now seeing the light. Only after allowing the hidden writer within to finally emerge, did I realize that I have been telling stories my whole life. With that came the realization that each of us has a unique story we’re supposed to tell. That’s why we’re here. And I’m supposed to help people to tell theirs.
Suddenly everything feels different. Like I have now steered the boat back on course. Like a new chapter.
A starting point.
Age is irrelevant. Wherever you are in your journey is a starting point. Whether you’re 20 or 50 or 80, if you never stop seeking then you’ll never cease to be amazed by what you might find. Whoever or whatever it is you’re chasing, slow down. Realize there is no race.
I am on the cusp of realizing my dream. Everything is brand new. Watch this space.
The starting point.