I think one of the loveliest things about getting older is our ability to understand ourselves. Where most of us have been struggling for years with who we are, in our middle and later years it often seems to come together, magically.
Of course, it’s not really mystical at all, but rather years of trial and error, and an eventual dawning of truth.
Like in the Serenity Prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference”, an awareness of the things that are simply part of our package can be one of the greatest gifts.
Since the age of 50, I’ve been stumbling upon these truisms about myself and the latest is earth-shattering for me. I’ve realized I’m extremely limited in my ability to process information and details. While I can often instantly see how information should be organized, stored and shared, I can’t easily use it myself.
I used to tell my shuttle passengers, who wanted to relay the entire directions to their home at one time, to only give me three steps at a time. They’d look at me sideways, but I truly couldn’t retain more than that. Thank goodness for GPS.
There have been signs all along; like my dislike of multiple choices. I’ve had friends who, when trying to accommodate me, have offered me many choices. Then after I’ve chosen one, go on to list more. I’d get very angry, internally, at being forced to reassess. I didn’t realize until just recently that this was because choosing involves detail scrutiny and I hate that. Take me to a restaurant, hand me a menu and I usually choose within a minute. DO NOT point out other things I might like!
This limitation of mine also dictates the way I write. I’m much more of a storyteller than an actual writer. To be precise, I’m more like that old shriveled up geezer, who sits by the fire, entertaining with stories he’s strung out of pure fantasy. You notice, in Hansel and Gretel, we never know why the witch likes to bake children in an oven. What is her motivation?
But this is only one of my many limitations. I’ve embraced them as I’ve discovered them, not tried to change them, unless they are truly changeable and it’s wise to do so.
Instead, I try to see the flip side. Often, what we view as a limitation also empowers us in some way. For instance, I tend to jump in with both feet without much hesitation because the details overwhelm me so I just do the thing. This has helped me a lot during my travels.
Also, my self-knowledge of this trait has pushed me to seek help from others when I need it. My daughter is invaluable when deciding which camera or laptop to buy. She helps me process the options. And because I absolutely cannot edit myself, I have asked a good friend to help me out with that and she’s been wonderful.
So, limitations are simply characteristics that define what we’re not so good at. That’s okay. It’s okay not to be good at everything. Accepting that truth makes life a lot easier.