Know thyself

I'm feeling better about my late kitty. It seems that admitting to myself that I was still grieving helped a fair amount. I still have things to work on with the therapist, but at least maybe I can start in a better place.

I'm not big on looking back or rehashing my past. What's done is done. I can't change any of it. All I can do is be as present as possible and move forward in a better way than I did at certain points in that past.

But I was wondering today why it took me so long to know exactly what I wanted and needed in life. Some people seem to figure that out early in their lives. Most people have sussed it out well before their midlife crises. But for me, it wasn't until I hit my 50s that I really understood myself and what I needed.

I dislike the term "late bloomer" and disliked being tagged with it. The term sounds innocent enough, but it's pretty much always used as a pejorative. Blooming late is wrong, a bit awkward. Should have bloomed earlier. Suffering from arrested development or immaturity or any number of things that are not generally looked upon with approval. Better late than never, but much better early than late, right?

There are certainly advantages to knowing yourself and what you really want and need early in life. For one thing, you're probably in a better position then to go for it. You have youth, energy, and drive. And for another, and if you can reach what you need, you get to enjoy it for longer. You don't spend so much of your life trying this and that, walking down blind alleys, straying off course. You might well accomplish more.

I couldn't make that happen. For whatever reason, I stayed a bud for a long time. I did try all kinds of things. I did wander down blind alleys. And often I would think I had found The Thing, my passion, only to realize that I'd missed the mark. I began to think I didn't have any one passion, that I was a Renaissance woman--or a dilettante. I think you have to be good at things to be the former.

As it happened, my passion was staring me in the face and had been for decades. But I had to change before I could realize it.

I was brought up Catholic with an Augustinian twist. Emotion was not to be trusted. Only reason was to be trusted. And yet when it came to important life decisions, reason failed me.

And that is to be expected. I just didn't know it until a few years ago. You can't make important decisions by reason alone. A real Mr. Spock couldn't do it either. Decision-making requires a "gut-check." You have to know not only what you think about a decision but how you feel about it. And due to my upbringing, and perhaps my own inclination, I was rarely sure of how I felt. It's no wonder that decisions were difficult for me and usually did not make me happy. You shouldn't follow your heart blindly, but if you exclude it from decision-making, the decisions you reach are unlikely to be satisfying.

I don't think there is anything magical about one's 50s, but for me it turned out to be a good decade. I finally grew up in ways that I never had in the previous decades. I figured myself out in ways that I had never done previously. I learned who I was and what I really wanted. I began to trust my emotions and understand how I really felt. Not all at once, but over time. It took a few tries to hone my decision-making skills.

The decisions to study counselling and fashion merchandising were both good ones, even if not my ultimate passion. Those courses of study were better than any others that I had done. The counselling program was, in fact, a major contributor to my emotional growth. It was right for me at the time, and what I learned will always be part of me. Same with the fashion program. There was a lot more heart involved in that one, but I wasn't listening to my heart quite well enough yet.

When I finally did, my way was clear. And I was astonished that I had not realized it sooner. I had to do music in some way. I have been steeped in music for as long as I can remember, listening to all kinds of music on my parents' stereo, getting infected with the rock and roll bug from seeing the Beatles on TV, getting further infected by watching bands in high school. I already loved to sing. I learned to play guitar. I started to write songs. I played in bands. I formed bands. And then I got disillusioned and went off to explore other things. I thought I had retired from music. But you never forget your first love, and sometimes it's the one you ought to be with.

So here I am with my youth well behind me, playing guitar in a band, singing, writing better songs than ever, and happy as a clam. I don't have to wonder whether music is the right choice for me. It resonates through every fibre of my being. It makes my heart sing. I could bore you to tears with trying to describe what making and listening to music mean to me. Suffice it to say that I'm no longer wondering whether I have a passion. I should have known it all along, but I didn't. Now I do. Blooming late is better than not blooming at all. And sometimes a late bloom is spectacular, all the more so for being unexpected.

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