I’m participating in a blogging contest on another website, and I liked this particular prompt and my response enough to share here:
Write about your greatest struggle so far writing or otherwise. You can choose whichever form you want: short story, poem, creative nonfiction, etc.
When I first saw the question, my brain went into overload. Like every other human, my list of struggles is so long, to pick one is near impossible. It seems we are born, live, and die with struggle.
There’s a quote from the movie “The Matrix.” I don’t have it exact but to paraphrase one of the “agents” as he talked to Neo: “We tried creating the perfect world for you. No struggles, death or disease, but you kept waking up, because you could never believe in a perfect world. We lost entire crops.”
I also think that since we live almost daily with struggles, we can’t imagine what Heaven will be like.
The one that I choose for this particular entry isn’t my greatest struggle, but it’s certainly one of my more recent ones.
Call it a slight case of mid-life crisis.
My hair is graying, certain parts aren’t — shall we say — as perky as they once were. I have arthritic knees and now elbows. Last year I graduated to bifocals. I’m finding myself saying “What?” more often than I used to, and I can’t remember anything unless I write it down or tell my phone to beep me a reminder of an appointment or meeting.
Every day I gain a greater sense of my inevitable mortality.
I see younger folks with better health, figure and energy than I do, and I can’t help but mourn the loss of my youth. I look in the mirror and think, “Yuck. I’m old, fat and saggy. How ugly and worthless am I?”
Like it or not, I determine some of my self worth based on how I look. I would love to lose a few (or 40) pounds, but it gets more difficult the older I get. My brain tells me that looks don’t matter. My son still adores me and smiles whenever he sees me. My husband still thinks, and calls me beautiful. They don’t care that I’m all squishy. Why do I refuse to see me through their eyes?
During church today, my pastor mentioned a recent scientific journal where scientists have discovered that so-called negativity such as anger, frustration cling to our neurons like Velcro. Positive emotions and thoughts, on the other hand, slide off our neurons like Teflon. If true, my brain is no different from anyone else’s. I often see the positive in most every circumstance, but it also takes a lot of mental rigor to get me to that point. Afterward, I need a nap.
In other words, we have to work on optimism, and we have to work on embracing the fact that we are flawed creatures, but nonetheless loveable and beautiful in spite of — or even sometimes because of — those flaws.
So I’m getting old. So no young stud is going to turn his head and think, “Whoa. She’s hot.” That same young stud, however, may still smile and take down a grocery item from a shelf because I can’t reach it. He will treat me kindly and with respect because I am his elder (they still do that, believe it or not. I’ve seen and experienced it).
My brain is convinced that even though there may be fewer days behind me than before, I still have today, and I must not squander it. I am still worthy of being loved no matter what my age or how much loose skin waddles underneath my arms.
Convincing my heart, that’s the real struggle.