"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates

- - scatterings of ideas sent to my younger self, a sensitive girl who was fooled into believing she was a boy because of anatomy - -

Thursday 4 February 2016

Going Through the Motions

Perhaps it would be fair to give a warning that this post might have some triggers in it. At one time this would have been hard for me to read. Please take care of and love yourself. 

Recently many of my senses have changed; smelling things more acutely, seeing things that might have escaped my notice in the past. I feel for others more than ever before too, and I have never been one to lack empathy. 

One of the things I've noticed is how so many, especially men, age fifty and older seem to rapidly deteriorate physically and mentally. Getting old before their time, they don't seem to notice or care. Living their lives on autopilot, they go through the motions as though they have nothing much to live for. 
Putting in time before the big last disappointment. 
Don't get me wrong, I know people who defy this pattern and these wonderful people are vital and fun; some of them are transsexual, but I digress. 

It may not be a coincidence that it was around the age of fifty-five that my careful examination of who I was and now who I have revealed began. Looking back, I might have become that sort of slowly dying person. 

Going through the motions doesn't seem so terribly dangerous or awful when you are young. But it can be fatal for those without a reason to break free of it. It scares me so much to imagine myself like that; some sort of zombie apocalypse

Almost a year ago, someone who I thought loved me dearly, asked me to please just go through the motions for a while longer:
"You won't be around so much longer. 
Please, just pretend to be a man for the sake of all of those who love you."

When I was a child, not so long after World War II and the Korean War, there was a biblical quote that would get tossed out:
Greater love has no one than this, 
that someone lay down his life for his friends.

It was just this past weekend that yet another 'loved one' asked the very same thing of me... 

Just go through the motions for a while longer, please. 

It was like someone trying to reach into my chest and rip out my heart. Would it really be so much better if I had died? 

Not for me

I will not go through the motions to make others comfortable ever again. 


  1. A heartfelt post! However, I think your analysis is biased - perhaps because of the characters you have chosen as a sample. Whether or not people choose to "go through the motions" is likely to be the result of a factor you did not mention, but which I suggest is staring you in the face.

    I stopped "going through the motions" when I was in my early-to-late fifties. That was the result of my first spiritual enlightenment, a process that (for whatever reason) you have become involved in. That process is independent of gender or sexual orientation. Spiritual enlightenment requires ruthless candour, a quality I have observed in you.

    When one belongs to a group of people who require radicalism in order to change, survive and live, there is almost a need for that group to tend to go a little extreme with their up-front-ness. Most people do not belong to any such grouping and therefore manage only "to cope." One thing with which they need to cope is their fear, fear of change, fear of seeming to be different from normal. For them the request, even perhaps demand, is "go through the motions please," at least until we no longer feel threatened by your honesty!

    As one 78 year old to a mere stripling-me-gal, life is good as my eighties approach, and getting better!

    1. Dear Tom, it may well be that observing the folks in my little town here in backwoods Ontario might be a poor sample indeed; it is a very sad sample I guarantee you.
      There is that age period for an awakening of the spirit again, so thank you for that confirmation.
      It is interesting to note your words, "independent of gender or sexual orientation", because while composing this piece that is what was on my mind, that the particulars of my own journey were somewhat irrelevant, but those needs had somehow given impetus to it.

      You are a fine mentor Tom, and I am so happy for you and the many others we meet along the way here to whom this post is simply preaching to the converted.

      Thank you so much for bringing your wisdom to my little corner of the world.

  2. It may not be a coincidence that it was around the age of fifty-five that my careful examination of who I was and now who I have revealed began. Looking back, I might have become that sort of slowly dying person.

    Pretty much my story....

    1. And another thoughtful, caring and empathetic person was revealed in that process. None of us come out unchanged.

  3. Change is good! Prost! Glasses raised and smiles all around ... and then I have to remind myself that not everybody around me feels that way at all. But you're right, oh so right, dear Halle. Making others comfortable is not your job in life if that comfort-making comes at the price of feeling "like someone trying to reach into my chest and rip out my heart." Nein!

    Thank you for this honest and loving post.

    1. Dear R, thank you!
      Thought of you last night as I raised my glass of urBock, a local brewers spring offering.

  4. A year or two ago I read Thomas Berger's 'Little Big Man' again. Among many interesting characters one who represented Native Americans non-judgemental nature was Jack Crabbe's friend Little Horse.

    “After the talk in Hump’s lodge,” Jack Crabb relates, “my other foster-brother Little Horse, dressed like a Cheyenne woman, come in and entertained us with very graceful singing and dancing. It did my heart good to see he made such a success of being a heemaneh.”

    I look forward to the day when we're all as wise.

    1. Yes Susan, it would be lovely and generous to imagine that day might come. At the moment it seems the barbarians are still at the gate in so many places. Thank you for pointing out that book however for I know there is always more to learn and perhaps understand.

  5. Hi Halle
    I think I know what you mean about small town centres having entrenched ideas which seems to me to be a universal trait wherever you go and maybe it is just part of our tribal nature- a lack of exposure to a diversity of opinion.

    But I also endorse what Tom has said and can’t add anything except to say don’t you think there is also a tendency for older folk to say something honestly without fear or favour than what existed in their youth or midlife periods.

    Hence those with a disposition for the status quo and to go with the flow might (going through the motions if you will)have always shared that inclination but held back in their youth or simply went along vocally with the crowd. So they feel inclined to now voice an opinion, whilst others , because of physical ailments will be less inclined to get involved.

    But hopefully many more, wherever one lives, are more willing to change their views given a better understanding/ experience of life.

    You can present you views calmly in an empathetic manner to those you think you can trust even when they offer alternative views.
    By doing this an empathetic manner as you describe it will add mightily to your community- just as you have engaged to some extent already.
    Best wishes

    1. Dear Lindsay, there are always the gems among those others whose minds are somewhat atrophied from lack of acceptance of any new idea for so long. In the past weeks I have been warmed by much quiet support from many women of my age.
      I love the idea that what I must do for myself might add to this little community in some way as well.