What I saw was crepe-like skin gathered at the base of my thumb and soft wrinkles pooling around my knuckles.
What I saw was my mother’s hand.
What I saw was the merging of my mother’s and father’s hand.
What I saw was my grandmother’s hand.
My nose stung and my eyes watered. I blinked back a tear.
What I saw was, again, my own hand.
What are the tears? I asked.
Yeah, that surprised me too, I said.
Are you sad when look at your hand?
I looked again at my hand. My strong, long, lined, graceful, feminine, aging hand. I perused the corrugated map of lines on my palm and marveled at the deep life there.
The tears are acknowledgment, I said. Appreciation. Love.
All of that from looking at your hand?
So it would seem.
I recently had a milestone birthday, rolling into a new decade. I’ve been thinking a lot about it and what it all means. For the past several years, I’ve written a birthday post capturing what I’d gleaned from the previous year, lists of nuggets and gems, soundbites and quotables, how I’ve grown, what I’ve let go.
I didn’t do it this year. I couldn’t seem to find my entry point, the doorway to the story, so I let it lie.
Celebrating was, of course, different this year, and in some ways, deeper and richer, more meaningful, taking place in smaller celebrations that I was blessed with throughout the month.
And, simpler, which is also how this big birthday feels. Simple, like turning the page.
It got me thinking about this new page I've entered, as well as all of the previous pages beforehand. My first thought was to explore what I was leaving behind, releasing, and not taking with me going forward. Then, some wisdom bubbled up. Love it when that happens.
It was the simple knowledge that all of the previous pages were necessary and must be kept. They were not to be released. They’re all still in there. Whatever happened in the past – the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful – doesn’t need to be burned or trashed or forgotten. Or let go. They’re all a part of the story, this life story.
I recently heard someone say, “Don’t let your past be your prologue.” And, I get that. But, to my way of thinking, simply, is that it kind of is. The prologue. Our past is what is on the previous pages, they are the prologue to the current page in our life story. Right?
But, here’s the rest of that wisdom that bubbled up: Detach from the attachment to it. To all of it.
Stay with me.
In other words, the work is not to stay stuck in the prologue. The work is to not be attached to any part of our story. To my way of thinking, the work is to instead acknowledge the prologue and the previous pages and stories, give them the nod they’re due and then plant ourselves firmly into the present chapter, page, paragraph, sentence, word.
The gift of the detachment is that it doesn’t allow the previous pages or chapters to dictate the current one. Some may say detaching is the same as letting go. Okay, then it's letting go of the attachment to the story, not letting go of the story. The idea of detachment clicked in for me a bit deeper somehow. Sometimes you just have to hear things in a different way in order for it to click in.
Just turning the page. Simply. To here and now. I own my story; it doesn’t own me.
It turns out my own gloriously aging hand that holds all of that wisdom was the entry point that opened the door to this next page of my story.
So, what were the tears about? I ask.
I see now. The tears over my hand of time are about a pride of ownership, I say.
And, love for its owner.