Okay, so it was 7:00 at night and I am usually winding down by then. I was tired after a long day, and the lighting was awful. Okay— but even so, on this last Zoom podcast, I couldn’t help but glance over and see a pale old woman on the right side of the screen, while still trying desperately to focus solely on the beautiful young woman interviewing me on the left. It’s not just the wrinkles and the slow alteration of a face and mortal body that I am continually reminded are mine. It’s the fact that I’m IN a mortal body, and while we can reassure ourselves that 75 is the new 55, like the T-shirts we made for my mother a long time ago that said 90 is the new 70— 75 is actually not 55. It is way past the tipping point of anything remotely identifiable as middle age.
My husband Rich and I went to an Ayurvedic doctor a few weeks ago and he had the nerve to sit there inside his beautiful, wrinkle-free East Indian skin and, without apology, say we were old! As if it were just another fact, like you drive an SUV or it’s grey out today. Of course, it is another fact that we are old. But the real issue is mortality, and for all my belief in reincarnation and levels of consciousness superseding any personality I may have inhabited in the past or will take on in the future, and despite my belief in the undying nature of my soul, I have still not quite made peace with the fact that the of Phyllis is an inevitability, and this life I have come to love so dearly will end. I’d rather not see that staring back at me on a computer screen, yet I do see it. And so, while I am perfectly free to fantasize that 75 is really the new 55, my reflection tells me this is not so; my time here is limited.
At the same time, I am even more aware that 75 is about feeling the preciousness and limitless possibility of all the life that is yet to be lived. Interestingly, the aging process of my internal world is not frightening: my mind and my heart travel to places now that were inaccessible to me early in life, and when I am centered in my essence, a wellspring of wisdom and creativity rise up from the depths of whoever I really am and all that flows through me, and there is no sense of aging at all. It’s not that I feel young either; it’s more like time is not playing a part in the internal scene, and yet within my skin even, I feel more beautiful than I ever did when I was young.
That being said, I still have a hard time accepting how old I look on that podcast video, and yet it reveals a simple truth if I am willing to embrace it. I live in both words— the time-limited and the timeless. My mortality does not eradicate my eternal soul, and the connection of my spirit to the infinite does not eradicate or compensate for the inevitable death of Phyllis. But I find that the whole paradox itself gives way to something much larger than the issue of my own passing or where “I” might go from here. It catapults me into what I want to do with the life I have. I want to be of service. I want to do whatever I can to help alleviate human suffering. I want to share the gifts I have received from the people I love, the people who have loved me, from the earth, and from the Divine Consciousness that has showered me with wisdom and a perspective that shines Light in the Darkness and reveals a Path through the Wilderness.
Interestingly, it was on this particular podcast—the Shine Within Podcast— that I was finally able to formulate my understanding of the bridge between psychology and spirit that I have been looking for ever since I have gone “public” with my new book, America in Therapy. I am excited to talk and write about it. It’s my next step.
I could just post the audio version of the podcast, but I won’t, because that does not fully honor the woman, the being, and the soul speaking there.