A real failure does not need an excuse. It is an end in itself.
By the time Gertrude turned fifty, she realized she'd become a happier person in spite of that sagging behind and the diminished vitality that comes with age. She wouldn't trade fifty for twenty five, even if she could. Why? Because a 25-year-old is still on the upswing of life, moved by the pressure of ideal expectations.
When you're 25, you just have to do so many things that will prove you're worthwhile. You have to have good, solid work. You have to have plans for a family or a mate. You ought to be slim, trim and fit. You ought to look nice. If not, there's your work cut out for you in order to make a success of your twenties.
When you're 50, you've met successes and failures, and you've come to know that success is transient and that failures provide the best lessons in this big school of life. There are other gifts that come with age as well. You've stopped judging others--you don't know why they are what they are, and you're happier not even worrying about it.
There is a big challenge in life, in overcoming emotional pain by identifying the thought pattern you believed had to be true, and surrendering your belief in it. Then you can see life for what it is. I had a problem when I was that age, in which I believed I had to prove I was intelligent. The problem was, I did things that were not intelligent. I was going nuts trying to reconcile my poor results with my supposed excellent brain, and in the end it turned out I wasn't that smart all the time. And I didn't die from this hard reality--I grew better.
I had this discussion with Gertrude over several days. We were studying a fantastic book called The Way of Woman by Helen Luke. We learned that those times of women's fight for equality with men were both a success and a colossal failure. The success was in opening people's minds about women's work. But the failure came in the form of denying women's basic nature. It's the female orientation that provides response and resonance for the masculine and the linear. Without this hidden but necessary quality, all falls down to chaos. And that's what we see now--ruin, because someone created a problem and nobody watched and responded properly.
So, who is a woman that exemplifies the Way of Gertrude?
Guest Gertrude of the Day:
Helen M. Luke was born in England in 1904. In midlife, she studied at the Jung Institute in Zurich, then moved to the U.S. In 1962, she founded the Apple Farm Community in Three Rivers Michigan. In her later years, Helen Luke was the model wise woman for many people. In 1995, she died at the age of 93 at Apple Farm. Her books include The Laughter at the Heart of Things, a collection of essays, and The Way of Woman: Awakening the Perennial Feminine.
She is awesome in her Gertruditude!