The weirs of age

happy 61 to me

One Time, One Meeting

It has often been observed that time seems to go faster as we grow older. Our birthdays arrive with increasing rapidity. Shortly after my fortieth birthday, I began to feel as if I were taking the garbage cans out to the curb every other morning. And with each ensuing decade this subjective sense of accelerating time, which a number of my older friends have also noted, has grown ever more prominent. It is as if we were afloat on a swiftly moving river, and each of those “important” birthdays, the ones that mark the decades of our lives, were another waterfall, whose drop and velocity have yet to be experienced.

Yet, from the vantage point of Zen teachings, neither birthdays nor waterfalls are quite what they appear to be. They are at once real and illusory. In his book Living by Vow the Soto Zen priest Shohaku Okumura has this…

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Dealing with Loneliness: Hold onto Patience, Not the Past

“Patience is not passive; on the contrary, it is active; it is concentrated strength.” ~Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

Last night, I discovered the tiniest of creatures in my shower: a minute scorpion, no larger than the average human fingernail.I could not for the life of me work out how it had ended up here because I live on the third floor of an apartment building in a busy South African city. Nonetheless, there it was—a little fellow in the corner of the tiles, receiving ricocheted water droplets on his tiny little carapace.My main personal learning theme for this year seems to be patience, and, whether initiated by the universe or by my own hand,  I have set out to embrace it in everything I do.Starting my first job in January required me to apply patience in many ways: in my interactions with co-workers and clients, in driving in to work every morning in such a bustling city, in waiting for a slot between several adjacent meetings to eat my lunch. Most importantly, it required me to exert patience on myself.

Patience has never really been a strength of mine, especially with regard to relationships.

I was a serial monogamist since I was 17, bridging each ending relationship with a romance that I could immediately start. Even small gaps between these adjacent relationships were filled with several casual physical interactions just to ensure that bridge was securely built.

But somehow, it has been over a year since my last romantic commitment to another human, and I have learned to curb my need for somewhat less committed relationships to a great extent too.

On the second night since the little being’s arrival, I could not find it anywhere. I bent down to examine every crevice, every dimple, every crack. Nowhere.

I was concerned it may have ended up under my duvet, but decided to deal with that concept closer to bedtime.

For now, I could remain blissfully unaware.

I got into the shower and, after a few moments, the scorpion appeared to me mere centimeters from where it was discovered.

I picked it up with an ear bud and it reared its tail and claws at me, before promptly turning and marching straight down the hard plastic rod away from me. I decided it would be best to release him outside, where he would hopefully find a decent meal and undergo less stress.

After a good couple of flicks of the ear bud outside of my window, he let go. I released him to the external world knowing that the large tree ferns below my apartment would cushion his fall.

I suddenly felt sadness wash over me for a reason I could not instantly grapple. It was such a transient little creature and I had so little to do with its life—nor did it have very much to do with mine. So why did it make me pause to feel and think?

It became clear that the metaphor had struck my subconscious mind and was allowing me to work through feelings, those that I had previously not fully embraced, in a safer environment.

The scorpion was akin to many a romantic partner: showing up from seemingly nowhere, planting themselves in the heart of our lives for a moment, and then inevitably vanishing from our existence.

And sometimes, when a romantic partner gets ripped away, we panic in the void left behind, and make hasty decisions to fill it with something or anything at all.

When my last relationship ended, I felt so terribly empty, as if part of me had evaporated alongside him as he walked away from me for the last time. He told me that I was not “the one.” I translated this as him saying that I could not be loved by him because I was innately flawed, beyond being lovable.

So I threw myself into an active social life. I met people while out in bars—people who seemed to see the beauty in me—and established whatever form of connection with them they would allow me to have.

Again and again, all they allowed me was a material connection based on physical need. I was fooled by them wanting to see me again. All they wanted was a repeat of the night we met. All I needed was to be deemed loveable.

When they saw this need in me, they ended their connection without contemplation or care, and I didn’t always see it coming. But I was dragging this behaviour out of them. I was the cause and the effect. I was the sole player in the game. They were not to blame.

Lovers and partners may exit in innumerable ways: they may aggressively march out of your life, they may gently release you, or they may leave you breathless by their abrupt and unjustified departure. They may leave this earth physically altogether. You may do the equivalent to your lovers and partners.

I wandered into three considerable outcomes, and justifications, of patience.

Only patience allows us to fully understand why important people in our lives come and go.

Only patience allows us to reap the lessons of a past emotional interaction in its entirety.

Only patience from the point of solitude onwards will allow us to wander into a truly constructive circumstance with another human being.

To liberate others is to liberate oneself. And vice versa.

I then recognized that I had been holding on to some things (or someones) for a long time. People that I consciously remembered had left my world, but part of whom were still with me.

I held onto their messages, gifts to me, and belongings they had left at my apartment. I held onto the things they said to me out of sheer gratitude and love for me, and replayed these over and over in my head, out loud. I held onto the smiles that I had caused. I held onto the idea that they would come back.

These were not the full, whole, and meaningful parts. These were exoskeletons—something left behind that the person no longer needed when they moved on, but that I held tightly in my grasp to reassure myself that I was not alone.

And in no way will these parts ever be that person. In no way will these elements ever represent the entirety of a being. In fact, they are warped memories that are left by your mind to comfort you and nourish your wounds, but are anything but true.

My last romantic relationship’s end had been the most peaceful departing that I had ever experienced. He had gently released me. But for a while, I was lost—with the shell of him, and (seemingly) as a shell of myself.

The fear of not being complete when solitary can be devastating. You are more inclined to stick with people who abuse and degrade you. You are more likely to pass up opportunities that may lead you to fulfilment in your career and personal life if they don’t allow you to stay with the person you’re bound to.

Your confidence and lust for life diminishes when you are alone, and you may make harmful and self-destructive decisions.

The time I have spent “alone” has been remarkable. I have embraced my deepest fear: loneliness. I have been afforded the opportunity to see my courage, and my scorpion-like perseverance.

Now that I hold onto patience and not the past, I am more free. My confidence has been amplified, my sleep and concentration have improved, my moods have stabilized, pursuing my passions has a daily place in my life, I show more love to the people that matter, and I am a more easy-going person. In an interesting way, this all sets me up to meet the right people as a side effect.

I encourage you to hold onto patience, and not the past, too.

One of the easiest ways to instantly gain patience is to carry out a kind of on-the-spot meditation. When you are feeling overwhelmed or flustered by guilt, sadness, or regret from your past, stop your thoughts altogether and focus on the tension in your muscles, especially your face, neck and shoulders.

Blink slowly, and let this tension go with a deep breath. You are not your worst mistakes. You are not the person from yesterday, or last month, or the previous year. You are present in this moment as a full human being. You have the ability and freedom to make new choices.

via Dealing with Loneliness: Hold onto Patience, Not the Past.

Top 10 Reasons to Date a Cougar


When it comes to dating these days, more and more younger men are going for the older women… or, in modern words: the cougars.   I’m happily married myself, but back in my younger days I fancied myself a bit of a Cougar hunter. Out of this youthful pursuit was born this comprehensive list of reasons to pursue the dangerous-but-rewarding species Cougar Americanis.

10. Are They Experienced? … Is a cowgirl reversible? What’s there not to like about a woman who knows how things work? I mean this in reference to the bedroom and to life. The older ladies have earned their stripes as the wise ones. They know everything. By everything, I don’t just mean that they’re women so they [think] they know everything… I mean what I mean. Really. Think about it… they’re sharp.

9. Cougars Aren’t Too Tech Savvy … As a preliminary disclaimer, I would like to note that I do not mean this in a negative way. Why would this be on my list if this was a negative thing? Negativity is for people named Nancy who spell it with an “ie” instead of a “y.” This technological brain-malfunction is a plus for you, buddy. How many girlfriends have you had that took the liberty of going through your text messages to see if Julia from the office sent you any texts between now and the last hour she checked? If you’re with an older woman, chances are she’s not even sure how to get to the inbox on your phone, let alone how to send a text message. Alas, hoorah!

8 Patience is a Virtue … Actually, it’s a noun, but my lousy sense of humor and B-S aside, patience is a virtue. Younger girls are impatient. Seriously. They can take forever applying lip gloss, causing you to be late for a movie, but heaven forbid you need to finish-up on the pot, the whole world comes to an end. I feel as though an older woman would be far more understanding in pressing times like those. Bowel movements happen; older women get this.

7. Cougars Have a Job or a Monthly Pension … It’s not common, but it’s also not rare to let one of those “give me those, buy me that, pay for me” girls slip between the cracks and surface into your life. Now, I’m not a man of particularly high income, and I certainly never minded indulging the girl I was dating in a few little or big luxuries every now-and-then. But lets be reasonable, here. I will never put myself in the position to pay for someone’s cable bill ever again. That’s why, I’ve realized, these older women are not only patient, experienced and beautiful creatures, but they’re also independent. I like that.

6. Cougars are Cookers … Going out gets old (… no pun intended). Staying in and cooking can sometimes be just as fun (if not more fun) than dining out. The only problem is that many girls I’ve dated don’t even own a cookbook. The biggest victory in their kitchen conquest was either pancakes or instant mac and cheese. I won’t lie; I love both of those things, however, imagine a woman with a recipe book who has the ability to make things with no additives, and the experience of various Thanksgiving dinners under her belt. Now that’s what I call a seasoned veteran (…again, no pun intended).

5. Cougars Still Think Twitter Is Something Birds Do at Sundown … For the same reasons you don’t like your girlfriend going through your phone, you also don’t want her going through your computer. To a cougar, the internet is a strange and unexplored world… a world that most prefer not to venture into in this lifetime. I’m okay with that. Have you ever Googled yourself? I have. Traces of my former sleazebag-self are accessible to everybody and the general public can (if they so choose) bask in the embarrassment of what I like to refer to as my “slutting-around MySpace” days. Shameful.

4. Cougars Have Wheels … Now, I’m not saying that I’m the type of guy who’d like to have his girlfriend or wife drive him around all the time. I don’t; in fact I hate it. Girl drivers are frightening and plain bad. That’s all I can say about that. On the other hand, it’s always a plus when the older lady you’re seeing insists on driving her full-size minivan to the ballgame you’ve invited her to. Her selling-point: “I can fit everything you want to bring into the back!” What she really means is “I can fit all the crap you want to bring with you [that is completely unnecessary and embarrassing] into the back of my mom-mobile.” I don’t mind this. Once I thought minivans: lame. Now I think: minivans: luxury.

3. Cougars Know What They Like … I think most men are in agreement when it comes to how annoying it is when your girlfriend doesn’t know what she wants. She doesn’t know what she wants to eat, wear or do. I’ve lost many hours of my life going back and forth to the “where-should-we-eat, well-you-pick, no-you-pick” bicker. Cougars eliminate this problem. They’ve lived enough of life to know what they like to eat, where they like to eat, what they want to wear, and what they like to go. This is great news.

2. A Cougar Won’t Drag You to See ‘Twilight’ – If I need to explain the glory of this point further, then forget everything you’ve read thus far—you deserve to be with a younger woman.

1. Cougars Cop The Senior Citizen Discount Y’All! … I am not judgmental, and for some, the older: the better. Therefore, I felt the need to see light from the other side of the spectrum. So, seniors… they get movie ticket discounts, restaurant discounts, and other various kinds of discounts that I’m not even aware of because, well, I’m not there yet. But the fact of the matter is: everybody likes a discount. Rock on!

via Date a Cougar – Top 10 Reasons to Cozy Up With a Cougar | Goodbye Dysfunction!.

Where Are You on the Hamster Wheel?

I had a conversation with a Human Resources friend of mine years ago and she gave me a piece of advice that I’ll never forget. She said that in our professional lives we are like hamsters on a wheel. No matter how fast we run, we eventually come full circle. “How many times can you run around the same wheel without getting bored?” she asked me. My answer is four.

In my experience every job has four cycles that provide opportunities for success and sanity. On the fifth time around the wheel, boredom and restlessness sets in. High-performers start looking for a new wheel to run on.

Where are you on the wheel?

The first time around the wheel corresponds to the honeymoon period of a job. Things are exciting and new. You don’t know enough yet to get bogged down in details or office politics. On the first time around the wheel, you’re simply having fun.

The second time around the wheel is the learning curve. The honeymoon is over and you’re in heavy-duty learning mode. The learning curve can be short or long depending on your specific job responsibilities and your previous experience. As stressful as the learning curve can be, most people enjoy the intellectual challenge of this cycle.

The third time around the wheel is a time of confidence. You understand your job well and you have a feeling of mastery over day-to-day responsibilities. You are comfortable acting as an expert in your area. The confident period is a time of high job satisfaction for most people. Your confidence in this cycle gets you ready for the fourth cycle on the wheel.

The fourth time around the wheel is the time of giving back. You are tapped to lead, coach, and mentor others. Most of your time in this cycle is spent in teaching mode. This can be a very rewarding period for many people, and can last several years under the right circumstances.

The fifth time around the wheel is when boredom and restlessness start to set in. Job satisfaction and engagement rapidly decline. You’ve seen the view from this wheel and have experienced what it has to offer. Your job feels stale. You crave new challenges and new learning opportunities. You become aware that even the finest wood chips lose their flavor after a while.

How long does it take to complete all five cycles? There is no one answer for that. It’s different for every person in every job. With that said, the typical high-performers hits the boredom cycle every five to seven years unless something occurs to interrupt the natural progression of the cycles.

Think merger and acquisitions, think changes in high-level management, think broad sweeping organizational changes, think promotions. All of these are examples of interruptions that break up the natural progression from honeymoon to boredom. These interruptions can be a very positive experience. They can help re-engage a top performer in her job, send her back to the learning cycle, and propel her career forward.

If you are a top performer in your organization who is going around the wheel for the fifth time, ask for new challenges immediately. With the right strategic interruptions, you can continue to enjoy job satisfaction within your same organization for years to come. Without it, you’ll be looking for a shiny new wheel to run on very soon.

via Online Coaching and Leadership Training for Women.