In my twenties, while siting in an old Italian restaurant, I noticed a couple of people wandering around from table to table. One was selling roses and the other a fortune teller, dressed as a gypsy, who eventually approached our table. She quietly saddled up beside each of us and when she got to me, one thing I still remember that she said,” You will have a long life. You will live to be seventy-six.” Something inside resonated with that.  On the 12th of this month, I turn seventy-four.

In seventy-four years, you learn a lot, especially what you love and what you don’t. I hate injustice, the misuse of power, the inequality of women and minorities and kale. I love life and the lessons I created this time around. As you become less able to jump off tall buildings and solve the world’s greatest problems, you start smiling quietly inside about the things you love, for instance, my sixty-year-old toy poodle, Gracie. Years ago, I learned from the love of my life that food can be satisfying and not just fuel. Hence, I have no shame having just finished the other half of the very satisfying hamburger that I couldn’t eat last night…and it’s only ten am. Stopping to savor the taste is now next in importance to great sex. I love non-slip socks and slippers. I love lingering hugs, an occasional Diet Pepsi and popcorn. Most of all I love learning. In a close second, is my cashmere coat, my down quilt and my car with bells and whistles.

And then there is the soul work, the gifts you can’t touch or live without. I treasure the many truths I have learned and look forward to sharing with you.  The kind that sear a path up your spine and rattle your teeth, such as there really is life after death and the, albeit over-used, truth that I create my own reality. I love the truth that sometimes it’s not my circus and therefore, not my monkey. The awareness that we each get to learn at our own pace, in our own way is freeing. I respect that and know it’s not my job to fix anyone. My job is simply to be truly present, offer the best of what I have to offer, and then it’s not my business what people do with it.

As you get older you may realize that life cannot be categorized, compartmentalized or even tidy. Life is messy and marvelous.  It’s filled with opportunities to accept differences, learn about your own willingness to grow and change and most importantly find your true self. If you edit and judge avoid and parse from life only things you agree with, you will have missed the point. Be fearless and open. There is no one standing behind you making you believe anything. However, the more you understand another’s truth and how and why that truth is true for him or her, the more your respect and acceptance of that person will grow…even if you disagree.  For instance, my oldest daughter is a Jehovah’s Witness. She left my life, her brother and sister at age eighteen. It broke my heart not to know my grandchildren or hold my daughter. Nevertheless, as I told her, “You are doing exactly what I taught you to do which is live your beliefs and therefore I can respect and love you even if it hurts.”

One of the things I value the most is the truth that life is never just this or that.  It’s all of it. There is a bit of truth in every lie. There is a bit of pain in every joy. There is a gift in the center of every challenge. At this age I offer you that truth so that you, more quickly than I, can stand, arms and heart wide open, bravely unafraid to let all of life in.

© Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan 2016. All rights reserved.  No part of the intellectual property of Dr. Dina Evan may be reproduced, placed on mechanical retrieval system, transmitted in any form by electronic, video, laser, mechanical photocopy, recording means or otherwise in part or in whole, without written permission of the author.  Contents are fully copyrighted and may not be owned by any other individual or organization.