“The fiftieth year of our life is like the last hours of dusk, when the sun has set and one turns naturally toward reflection. In my case, however, dusk incites me to sin, and perhaps for that reason, in my fiftieth year I find myself reflecting on my relationship with food and eroticism; the weaknesses of the flesh that most tempt me are not, alas, those I have practiced most.” Isabel Allende, Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses.
Yesterday was the last birthday of my 40s and to say my life has not turned out the way I planned is a gross understatement. Thirty years of being forced to plan, make goals, work harder, make more money and acquire more stuff, re-evaluate goals and keep climbing the mysterious and ever-elusive ladder of ‘success’ left no time for things of a sensual nature, things that make us human, things I need. For 30 years, I’ve made ‘friends’ that ultimately got bored, loved men who betrayed me and gave all but my blood to corporate America and managers whose bottom dollars were so sacrosanct that when I was a manager I was forced to put people into performance buckets that did more damage to their psyche than the tiny percentage of a raise would have done to the CEO’s budget had they gone into the performance bucket they really deserved and had earned.
Over the past year and a half I’ve learned that goals aren’t all they are cracked up to be, that life is bigger than any of us can ever direct, that small things are ultimately huge and that love comes from the most unexpected places. Two of my favorite quotes come from Marilyn Monroe:
- “I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”
- “I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”
I forget these two tidbits of wisdom more frequently than I should. I am a flight risk, ready to run as fast and as far as I can so no one can hurt me again. And then I come to my senses. Because I am a woman who can NOT run from a man who loves me if I love him too. I love being in love. I love how my lover makes me laugh and how he laughs at my corny silliness. I love the feel of his hands on my body, the look in his eyes as when he gazes my way, the way he flirts with me and the way he supports my ever-expanding wings.
On this the dawn of my 50th year, I am learning how to appreciate the sensuous things that make my life worth living: early morning sun rises over the mountains, clear, crisp stars dotting the black night and the sight of my lover’s smile; sound of cows lowing in the fields, the cacophony of humming birds flapping their wings 25-50 times per second as they drink sugar-water from the feeder and the distinct absence of sound that is felt more than heard; the smell of tomato and cucumber plants, the unique aroma of farmlands and the irresistible pheromones of my lover; the sweetness of hydroponic tomatoes ripened on the vine, the crunch of hearty bread made with my own hands, and the striking texture and taste of bee pollen; the insistent nuzzle from my dogs, the warmth of my niece’s hug, and the heat from my lover’s caress.
On this the dawn of my 50th year, I am learning how to love slowly, sensually, wholly, holistically, spiritually and carnally. I am who I am, irrevocably. As the long hot days of summer wind down, and crisp autumn air moves in, visions of nurturing soups and breads and tantalizingly long nights wrapped in my lover’s arms lure me to laziness. The best things are falling together and the temptations of the flesh call to me like wicked sirens. And I am compelled to answer.