Did someone just blurt?
Updated: Jan 20, 2022
Did someone just blurt?
‘Oh, that would have been me’ writes Carol Orsborn. ‘Yesterday, in front of 200 people on Zoom who gathered to hear a lively conversation about conscious aging. From the warm-up chat, I knew that there were a number amongst the participants, many of them strangers to me, who just wanted to be comforted in the face of loss, diminishment, marginalisation and all that which they’ve more or less staved off all their lives until now.
‘I’ve been told that I was speaking in a normal voice and that my head was not spinning on my neck, but I went off-script early on and blurted out a blast of unprocessed truth. A loud one. In a nutshell, I revealed that in the present moment, I’ve never suffered so much in my life because I have never been so willing and able to drop all the masks that offered me at least the illusion of protection. That facing unvarnished reality requires one to draw upon wellsprings of fierce courage that were unavailable earlier in life, when the masks one adopted seemed necessary for survival...
‘That I no longer seek comfort or relief because I know that staving off all the bad stuff is not under my control and that if I didn’t have faith in a higher power, to hold both me and my suffering, I would not have the courage to resist trying to do something about it myself. And only then, sometimes, by God’s grace, the suffering lifts and what remains is joy – irrational, unearned, ephemeral but fully embodied love, for self, other and the whole circus we call life. Every last clown and monkey.
‘Okay, I didn’t say all that – not the monkey part, and not sure if I even got to the joy part, honestly. The very definition of a blurt is that it is spontaneous and not particularly thought through. The dictionary also says that normally blurting requires an apology. I get it. The dictionary thinks that I should do a better job at trying to control what sneaks out of my mouth when I’m looking in the other direction. Whether my blurt was experienced by others as an unpleasant poot or a fresh breeze of freedom is something you’d have to ask them. But I can tell you that from my perspective, it felt goooood!
‘In fact, it felt so good, I’m pretty sure it’s going to keep happening, more and more. And more to the point, I can’t stop myself. The psychologists generously reframe what most call a lack of tact amongst the elderly not as a character flaw but as the thinning of some brain function that causes us to become more uninhibited as we age. You know, as well as do I, the reputation old people have for defying the rules of social discourse. In the presence of the aged, you may be subjected to detailed recounts of malfunctioning body parts, obnoxious flirtations, rude inquiries and all manner of tongues hanging loose. But I never expected to have one of them.
‘Despite my doctorate in the social sciences, I would like to respectfully disagree with the psychologists – or at least, in my case, make a notable exception. For there are those times –more and more of them – when faced with the reality of a rapidly approaching horizon –there’s simply no more time for nonsense. This is not a socially acceptable thing to say out loud, but there are things – many of them hard-won – that I know to be true. Not up for debate. Not even up for discussion. Just flat out true. And one of them is that it’s high time you – all of us – stop searching for the magic bullet (or worse, selling methods, practices or insights) that will guarantee pain-free aging. Stop whining. Stop thinking you’re special or different. It has never been and will never be up to you to get this one down pat.
‘Some of what I actually blurted out yesterday has been reported here accurately. Some I won’t know if I really said or not until I listen to the playback. Some is just wishful thinking – that had I been able to think it through more carefully I would have made sure to include the joy part (which is why I prefer writing to speaking!). But in the end, all that matters is the truth that is so much bigger than any one of us and that will find its way to you if you let it, regardless of how inept the messenger. In the end, it’s all monkeys and circuses, thank you God, but I’m pretty sure I did leave that part out.
‘Please note: Thanks to all of you who have asked for a recording of yesterday’s conversation. I will post the link to subscribers as soon as it’s available which, apparently like so much else in my life, is not under my control.’
Carol Orsborn’s book The Making of an Old Soul: Aging as the fulfillment of life’s promise is now available in both paperback and eBook editions. You can buy it here.
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