There has been a flurry of response to my Facebook Post acknowledging the beginning of my 40th year at school. I feel a little sheepish hosting my own party, but truth be told, very sweet to get the community affirmation that indeed this is a worthy milestone. Amongst many lovely comments, someone wrote: “Kudos to all you beautifully seasoned innovators…”
I’ve been called many things in my life, but “seasoned innovator” is a new one. I like it!
Fact is that I am truly appreciating the consequences of aging. Well, most of them. But the seasoning part that comes from having lived through so many seasons, both the physical and metaphysical ones (the Winter of Our Discontent, Spring Awakening, The Summer of Love, Autumn Harvest), is indeed worthy of gratitude. There are less surprises, life’s betrayals and disappointments carry a bit less punch, its surprises and pleasures more appreciation. You know some things. And some things you really know, I mean, down to the marrow of your bones. No speculation, no guesswork, no wishful thinking, you’ve been there, done that, lived it many times over, thought about it, talked about it, read about it, written about it, it’s indelibly a part of you and you’re happy to share it with others. Whether they want it or not! J
But I particularly like the juxtaposition of “innovator” next to “seasoned.” Knowing something can lead to complacency and being content with answers, whereas innovation thrives on the questions and demands constant attention and intention and alertness. The innovation is the part that has kept me so excited about returning to school today, the seasoning is the part that gave me permission to be relaxed. Yeah, I still have to plan classes, but more and more, it’s about just showing up and sharing myself as a means for kids to get to know themselves. That’s the reason to become yourself— not only for your own peace of mind, but to inspire others to become themselves. A remarkable musician from my recent World Music Course in Toronto wrote:
“You seem to have achieved authenticity through your chosen path, just like a good musician who becomes one with their instrument! As a result, additionally to the vastly interesting things you’re bringing, there is a constant hidden message to us: ‘You, too, can become the best you could be!’ “
Well, there it is. And that’s a point of view that has only become available to me in my elder years. The brash young man brimming with self-confidence thinks it’s all about him and his achievement and that’s important at that stage of life. But finally the years have quieted that whiny, needy teenager in me hungry for approval and admiration and I find myself moving into the capacity to affirm and bless others. Not a charge to take lightly and you have to choose the specific moments worthy of blessing, not just give general kudos to folks about how “cool and awesome they are.” In order to do it properly, you have to be a seasoned innovator.