It feels different, this year, the final holiday season of my thirties. I've been tearing through the last pages of my journal trying to reflect on the decade, but then I get side-swiped by my dreams of what's around the bend, and instead of looking back, I'm looking forward because there is so much that excites me, so many words and songs and experiences, and so much love.
I'm also thinking about my Meyers-Briggs type. I just retook the test and upon reflection, twenty years after the first assessment (that was all theoretical because I had hardly lived at all), the INTJ now makes so much sense. There is something comforting about knowing who I am, here on the cusp of my forties, rather than wondering who I will become, as I did at the beginning of my twenties. The seeming disconnect of all my wanderings, interests, and curiosities are beginning to show their ties. There's an intersection where they all meet, and just like with you, despite the 7 billion other breathing humans on this planet, this place within me is unique. My desires to create something meaningful in this lifetime are wholly my own, and though they may seem like a tangle of knots to an outsider, I am starting to see the interconnectedness of my history, present moment, and future dreams.
I don't know what I think about growing old. I figure I have a whole other lifetime - another forty years - to decide. What I do know is that I am glad to no longer be so young. I know enough about myself to sense where I shut down and need to soften. I know where I am open and hope to remain so. I know where my sadnesses and angers reside, and I'm not afraid to explore them. I know what excites my spirit, and I want to live more in those spaces.
After (almost) forty years, I know this about myself: I am curious, independent, logical, insightful, passionate, resourceful. I set my own standards, and they are high. I think more is possible than impossible, and it bores me to hear otherwise. I desire a calm life, a just community, coherent narratives. I want to study alone without interruption, push myself beyond my current limitations. I seek challenges, and often need to meet them alone.
But, I am not a hermit. I adore community and its ever-expanding nature, I love connecting with a friend over a hike or tea or wine, I love hearing the things that make other people's heart beat faster, I revel in the original ideas of others, savor the excitement of friends, family, acquaintances and people I admire. I have little patience for what a former mentor of mine used to call "crazy-makers".
My brother wants to know my New Year's resolution. I never make them. I make lists instead, lists of 100 things to do in the year. I won't get to all 100, but the list is a place where, looking out at the coming twelve month span, I write tangible and abstract ideas to grabble with or get done. Marry Darby. Watch sarcasm with kids. Plant window box. Some will definitely be completed. Some are immeasurable. Some end up on the list year after year. Perhaps this year I'll finally find some plants to thrive in that damn box.
But, I suppose I do have a resolution for my forties. When I look back on the past ten or twenty years I remember too much timidity, too many apologies. What good did that do? My path was cobbled with all the qualities above, but also with something else that seems to fit the category of shame. One of the interesting points the INTJ assessment notes is that only 1-3% of women in the US population share this type. (2-4% of men, I think it noted.) In that light, I can see how I apologized many times for simply interpreting the world and all its possibilities in a different way than others do. Now that I see it, I must admit that I like my way of seeing the world. Not to say I don't have shortcomings - of course I do - but I feel fairly aware of them, and continually work to minimize them. In fact, I enjoy the challenge of mollifying my sharp edges.
So, my resolution for my forties is this: To quickly and easily apologize for my trespasses. To feel compassion for others, for we all have our own paths, our own stories, our own inner work to do in this lifetime. And, yet, I resolve also to not apologize for those trespasses which are not my own. To not shrink from my true desires. To live according to my own standards, desires, needs. To know that things others see as impossible endeavors, or too challenging to pursue, are not my own impossibilities, are not my own barriers. In this coming decade I resolve to live and love fully, intentionally, and to cherish as many of those moments as possible.