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'Being' with what we have, with thanks to Tennyson's poem "Ulysses"

acceptance gratitude growing older growing strong kindness to self Jan 27, 2020

Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

This excerpt from Tennyson’s poem “Ulysses” has been in my mind for a while now. Only today it became clear to me why.

Preparing myself for my 69th birthday in March, I’ve been conscious of needing more and more to “be with that I have.” What this means to me is being grateful first of all to still be here — my father died at a younger age than I am, and I am now old enough to have suffered losses of friends and relatives in increasing numbers. And secondly being grateful to still be well enough to make a difference in the world around me.

I feel like an older tree, still here, still bending with the wind, still nurturing life around me, and my feet firmly anchored to the earth. So yes, although I am “not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven,” I remain “strong in will” as the poem says. My time on earth has not yet ended, so there is still work to be done!

Upon this realisation, I have today updated my LinkedIn profile to the present here. I have accepted the strong will but less physical strength that is part of my years. Things take longer than they used to, because I have to be quiet more than I used to. So I have to be more patient with myself. This means that my LinkedIn profile includes less roles and skills than it used to, simply focussing on the essential components of my skills and knowledge.

BUT I’m still here!

And in this realisation, I have grown strong.

In gratitude for the gift of life.


[Photo by Wendy Campbell.]

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