Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Defying gravity

In recent days I've received three apology emails from women who have dropped the ball one way or another. The first couple of times I just figured we're all busy, thank goodness I'm not the only one who's human, and didn't think much more about it. But the last email gave me pause because it spoke of a woman dropping too many balls because she became overwhelmed by grief on the anniversary of her mother's death.

I realized that dropping balls when you are in mid life isn't because the brain is declining as so many of us fear. Instead we drop them because have become master jugglers -- juggling more balls at one time than we have ever done before in our lives. Between work, money, family, maintaining home and garden, supporting friends and aging parents, being concerned citizens, and trying to keep the toll of gravity from showing on our bodies and faces, something's bound to give once in a while.

No reasonable person's going to fault you if drop a ball or two when your parent dies, you're going through a messy divorce, you're diagnosed with cancer, or your child gets involved with crystal meth. So why do we kick ourselves so hard when we make a mistake? After all, master jugglers don't get all the balls in the air the first time. Part of the thrill of seeing them juggle an impossible number is knowing that one of them may likely fall.

The hidden blessing of getting older is it becomes impossible to expect yourself to be perfect. Certainly most people who hit 50 know that the days of having a "perfect" body are behind them. Yet as we grow into our imperfections, we do it handling more than we ever dreamed possible back in the days of our youth. So what if you drop a ball once in a while? You still have an innumerable number flying high in the air defying gravity at every toss.