We want the stillness and confidence
of age, the space between self and all the objects of the world
honoured and defined, the possibility that everything
left alone can ripen of its own accord
– David Whyte, Living Together
I’d like to think that I’ve arrived at this stage in my life where I can just let things be. To allow nature to take its course, for things to sort themselves out, to let everything left alone ripen of its own accord. I should think that’s too bold a statement, the arrogance of youth still pulsing in my middle-aged body.
We see it mostly with our children. In wanting to control the pace of their lives, to see them land well when they fly – to see the flight itself aim straight and true towards a logical place a few notches above where we ourselves have flown. For we’re in such a hurry to get them there, wanting the very best for them. You can’t rush the ripening, you tell yourself, and keep your unsolicited advice deep inside, waiting for an invitation to weigh in.
You learn to wait in the wings, ready to lend a hand, just playing the parent or friend card. Maybe it’s the gardener in me, knowing you’ve got to let things grow, more often than not finding yourself in wonder at the progression as things surpass your expectations. Sure, you curse the occasional rabbit or groundhog that ruins your dreams of a perfect season, but on the whole things work themselves out in the end (letting things be doesn’t mean you don’t have to fight for what you believe in: install a fence when you need to).
I’m not in any hurry to reach old age, but I know (if I’m lucky) that it’s not all that far away. A few decades, maybe, to make what I might of this life project. This work in progress. Imperfect. Incomplete. But in progress just the same. Seeing this in yourself lends a measure of understanding and empathy for the journey everyone else is on. For the possibility that they’re grinding away at.
Everything left alone can ripen on its own accord. This is the way of the world. Just remember that I’ll be here if you need me.