Yesterday, I talked about the struggle of suffering with the invisible.
Today, I want to talk about the fear of irrelevance.
With a bad pain day combined with an unhappy fog, I decided to do something I rarely enjoy and simply sit and watch something on TV. I’m a notorious multi-tasker and usually find it all but impossible to just sit and stare at a TV. I usually need to be working on something else, keeping my hands busy or at least the half of my brain that can’t focus on the show that’s playing in front of me. Today, I picked Grace and Frankie, the new Netflix original series that dropped starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin.
It was towards the end of the third episode, The Dinner, when inspiration for today’s post struck. Grace and Frankie sit in a car together, having just been thoroughly ignored by a rude and ageist cashier at a grocery store. Grace’s barely there grip on her emotions slips and she cried, forlorn, “I am not ready to be irrelevant!”.
My throat closed, my eyes watered, my face grew hot. I felt that. For completely different reasons, or maybe terribly similar ones, I felt this character’s fear and rage. Is there anything more terrifying for someone who wants to change the world than the idea of being irrelevant? Of going through life invisible, unnoticed? Unchanging and unchanged?
This is one of my greatest fears; irrelevance. It holds me close and paralyzes me with a freezing grasp of iron tight shackles, but doles out self-loathing like food to the starving. I am frozen by the fear of being irrelevant and thus I make no moves towards being relevant.
But that isn’t quite right, is it?
Today, Maundy Thursday, draws me one step closer to the end of the Lenten season where I gave up self-loathing and replaced with with self-love and the open, free bestowal of that love to others. In this practice, I have found in myself a capacity to love and accept and grieve and feel unlike anything I thought I was capable of. I have found the bonds of each and every friendship and bloodline. I have renewed appreciation for the people in my life and, for maybe the first time, I see clearly my own worth. I see what my life gives to others, what I am still capable of giving, and feel a deep and moving call to give as much and as freely as I can for as long as I can.
Relevance in life doesn’t mean earth shattering changes. It doesn’t mean going down in history or rewriting laws. It doesn’t take epics and song or to be immortal.
All life is relevant. Every moment, every life.
How can you fear not accomplishing what you accomplish by simply being?