Thursday, January 06, 2011

Growing Up and Letting Go

A friend from high school said something on Facebook recently, that really stuck with me.  The friend pulled an all-nighter, not partying, but chatting and commented that at 41 he wasn't spry as he once was.

Being the same age, I could totally agree with him.  I can't do the same things I used to do when I was 21, and in some cases, I don't want to.  Once you hit your 40s, you start to realize you aren't young anymore.  It might sound odd, but I feel more of an adult now than I did when I turned 21. 

Knowing your age is important.  Ageing means accepting limits and being open to new possibilities because of those limits. 

Which has led me to think about Brett Farve.  Farve is just a few weeks younger than me and we all know, he is ending his long football career...we think.  Farve was supposed to have retired two years ago, and then came back, retired again and then came back again.  I don't know what is it about Farve that he wants to remain in football, when his body is telling him its time to give it up.  What I do know is that it's pretty sad to see a guy trying to hold on his youth, even though his youth left him long ago.

Lane Wallace has written a wonderful essay on Farve and letting go in the Atlantic. (I guess I wasn't the only one thinking about this.) She writes:

...pursuing something you're so passionate about that you not only excel at it but feel it was something you were born to do makes that activity far more central to both your life and your identity. So what do you do when you edge closer to Father Time than the possibility-filled infant year? When enough years pass that the top of the bell curve slips through your grasp and you find yourself sliding down the far side? When you're past your prime, or not physically or mentally able to do or be what people recognized you for anymore? Who are you, then?

The entertainer and comedian Carol Burnett once said she ended her variety show while it was still getting high ratings—a show that gave her a level of fame and success she never again equalled—because she wanted to exit before the hostess started turning out the lights and asking her to leave. If only Elvis could have had that strength and self-control!

In the church, I've been aware of pastors who stayed in the pulpit way past their time and I know the damage that can do to a congregation. The fear is that when the last sermon is given, they will lose their identity. 

Which is what I think Farve is dealing with right now.  He is known as a great quarterback and if he leaves the stage, what will he be then?

Of course, one can be a lot of things, as Wallace notes in her essay.  But it's hard to see that when you're wrapped up in living in your glory days.

So yeah, I'm not a spring chicken anymore.  If I'm not in the "man of a certain age" territory, I'm damn close.  And that's okay.  I still have a future ahead of me and I'm looking forward to see what I will do...when I "grow up."

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