I'm getting closer to the third act of my life (Jane Fonda's metaphor).
Let's face it... we're all on a one way street of sorts. As we move along, the time we have left decreases and we have no idea where that finishing line in the sand resides. The moment of having our entire life ahead of us was years ago when a doctor slapped us on the butt and we drew that first breath... then let out a wail that shook windows and made dogs bark.
If we think back far enough and consider our great grandparents, they would be within years of the graveyard at my age, if they weren't already in it. Based on averages, if I were born in 1850, I would be dead... now. If I had been born in 1900, I might have another ten years left. In our present time, hitting the third act in our lives starts when our great grandparents were calling it a life. What hasn't happened in society is a change in perspective regarding that third act. By and large, many of us (the generalized big we) think we are done doing what we came here to do... and some younger folk think we are done as well.
Are we going to golf or play Gin Rummy for thirty years? It's not my cup of Earl Grey.
I've heard the above quote far too many times to count. I've seen it on social media, in movies, in television shows, in blog posts and in loud commercials. It has become the anthem to the beginning of the twentieth century. There is a truth in the statement. A momentary truth. I am who I am in that moment. I'm not that person for long.
There is a scientific study I read quite a few years ago that might put this in perspective. Scientists studied human tissue and found that cell death and regeneration occurs at different speeds in different parts of the body. They also found that every cell in your body will regenerate itself within seven years. Every cell. Including bone. What that means is, you are literally a completely new person every seven years.
I'm somewhere in my eighth complete regeneration. I'm planning about four or five more, though we all know what best laid plans can be like.
Which brings me full circle to “I am who I am”. I do get the premise behind it. Accept me for all my quirks and idiosyncrasies and positions about everything and everything I do or I'll point you to the door... with a left boot to boot. It's a position of strength, right? It's a position of self... of knowing who I am and what I stand for, right? It's a position of knowing what I will put up with and personal contentment... right?
Umm... yes and no. There are some among us who use "I am who I am" as a mantra to justify where they are stuck. I did it. I still do from time to time.
If you still have dreams about places you want to see, things you want to do or where you want to live, then you are not finished. And, who you are is not who you are dreaming about... or you would be there living that life and not dreaming. The hard truth is, if you are dreaming about something else, it is because you are not there. You have what you have because of who you are. The only way to achieve those dreams is to be something else. I am who I am is too often used as justification to stay stuck as you are.
I am who I am and I'm never going to change and I like being the person I was when I was happiest at some vague point in my past that no-one else remembers or cares about and there is nothing you can do about it or that I want to do about it so accept it or leave me alone.
Well, I'm here to tell you change is inevitable. Even the cells in your body know that simple truth.
So, now we are living older. Gone are the days when we cultivated the seeds of early childhood in the first act. Gone are the days when we toiled in the fields until we face planted... exhausted... in a freshly tilled row of potatoes in the second act. We now have a third act, thanks to science, technology and modern living. What are you going to do with that third act? Are you still going to be that person stuck at twenty-six or eighteen or thirty-one when you perceive you were happiest in your life? Or worse, are you clinging to that hurt person who from many years ago who just wants to be loved? I've got news for you. If you're in your third act of the play of your life, that person you're clinging to died a long time ago.
You have twenty... thirty... forty years to go. Are you going to spend those years right where you are now? Are you going to stick with “I am who I am” and be the same person for thirty more years?
If you want to stay in whatever place you are now and do what you are doing, I have no right to try to change that and I will be happy for you. Maybe you do want to golf every day for thirty years. Maybe hanging with your friends and shuffling cards back and forth is enticing. Maybe living out your life writing crackbrained blog posts is Nirvana. I have no right to try to convince you otherwise. If you are happy with where you're at, stay there. If you believe you have done all you want to do and it's time to reminisce your doings and beings until you die, perfect!
However, if you are not content and want to do, be and see something different than what you already have and know, then find another way of being... another way of doing... another way of living. I don't know about you and I know I am changing... becoming more.
Personally, I prefer a new mantra... I am becoming who I want to be.