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Wednesday, 25 January 2012

My Purpose in Life

By Lyn Burnstine

Four Season Trees

As I wrote my annual summary of my life to send to my friends, I realized there was a very special thread to this past year and the awareness that aging brings. I tried to express it in this letter.

"Each year I try to find a theme to the year’s events, a connecting thread,for my holiday letter as in, 'The year of the — .' Well, I think this year it found itself as I began to think about a year filled with random joys and sorrows, worries and pain, but some fun and golden days.

“I’m going to skip most of the usual family rundown. My family has become so huge most of you don’t even know who they are by name and if I brag about one, I have to brag about all 20 of them. Let’s just say the number stayed stable and I got to see all the five great-grands at least once.

“And I’d just as soon forget the falls, injuries to hands and knee, trips to the ER and one hospitalization for gastroenteritis. The point is, I survived and managed to have many stellar times in between.

“All you really need to know about the year is that I made a difficult decision not to uproot myself and move to Massachusetts, but to stay here near my dear old (and new) friends, the Hudson River, the Walkway Over the Hudson, my beloved writing groups, my amazing aide, my wonderful cooking and shopping assistant, and all my medical people and resources five minutes up the road.

“Daughter and her new husband's move put them much nearer so it is easier to get to each other now. The worst of the problems in my building ended with the eviction of a couple of tenants. Now again I love living here with its gorgeous park-like grounds for walking and photo-taking, so when I realized I was just too tired and decrepit to face a move and a new life, I was able to accept it.

“Which brings me to the theme of the year. As you know, I blog on the Elderstorytelling site and on PNN as well as share my photos on Facebook. From the overwhelming responses I have gotten, especially from younger women, it has begun to dawn on me that there is a need for and a shortage of elders as role models for keepin’ on keepin’ on – leading active, meaningful lives, in spite of pain and disability.

“I hear that from many people, younger ones especially, who tell me I am an inspiration and a mentor to them (and believe me, my circle of friends and fellow bloggers includes several other candidates for stardom in this field – I’m not alone).

“This year I am being filmed and taped as part of a documentary on people in their 70's and 80's dealing positively and creatively with aging. So my feeling of obligation to be that person has increased bringing a recent epiphany: This IS my purpose in life in this home stretch!

“And so there is the title for 2011's newsletter: The Year That I Found My New and Final Purpose in Life. I certainly had no problem knowing what my purpose was when raising my three children and helping raise nephews and a grandson – there was never a question.

“Nor when I was singing for my supper for 45 years, while still putting supper on my family's table every night; nor when I was churning out my three books. But the last few years I have been feeling a bit purposeless, unable to just relax and enjoy playing with my photography, writing, and reading. All my life I have felt I should be accomplishing something all the time, “devils nippng at my heels.” My goal is to banish those little buggers, yet still fulfill my newly-realized purpose.

“So, that, my dear friends, is where I am at the beginning of 2012, eagerly looking toward another year of living, loving, doing and just being. I wish for you a glowing year with good health, good appetites, and good health coverage!"

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. PLEASE read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Love your photos! I hope you will share the interview that you will be doing. I happened upon a wonderful site called the Legacy Project, that may be of interest to some. Inspires me to make every moment count!
Much as your writing has just inspired me for today!

Amen to what Linda said. I will look up the Legacy Project.

I think you may have more than this new purpose so don't say final yet!!
You may have a surprise or two yet. Life is so interesting from this point in life, as we all have done so much more than the young'uns. Best of luck with the interview.

How wonderful Lyn. Look forward if the documentary is shared. Have a great week/month/year.

I love the beautiful pictures,Lyn. You are a great photographer.

It is very interesting that you are being featured in a documentary. Will we be able to see it? Keep us up to date on that one.

I remember your Christmas letter quite vividly. It's so great that you have figured out where you are in your life, that you feel all right about living where you do, and that you have help to manage. That said, I was one of those people who said you were inspiring (if I didn't say it to you, I said it to myself!) but I suppose that's because I wish I were able to write as well as you. Pure envy, I'm afraid. Thank you for taking the time to reach out beyond your own little world to enrich ours.

I'm inspired when I look at your pictures and now I want to see the documentary. May your new goal in life bring you many more years of joy.

My comment got lost somehow. I said--first, thanks to all for your kind and loyal comments. And wearmanyhats, you are a beautiful writer who will only grow with years and experience. At your age, I hadn't written much but letters and press releases.

Lyn - have just read your post and it was so useful on a day when I was once more struggling to define "just what is my purpose" - you didn't give me the answer but you did show me that it can be found - life is certainly a journey of discovery - thanks for the lift.

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