The Art of Midlife: Courage and Creative Living for Women

By Linda N. Edelstein | Go to book overview
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steps to change is really hard. Understanding and insight provide an awareness and shed light on relationships, motivations, and feelings, but insight is not action. Understanding gives us the direction in which to take action and helps bolster our confidence to make changes, but it never magically puts us at our destinations.

If it is so difficult, why bother? We keep growing because we want to hold or find the solid core of ourselves. Is it to repair the world? Yes, in part. To repair one's self? Yes. There is a phrase in Judaism, tikkun olam, which means "to repair the world," and a saying: "When we do an act of kindness, we recreate the world." When we repair ourselves, we have taken a step to repair the world.

In myths, many of the battles with the gods are provoked by a fight for immortality. Creativity is a yearning for immortality. We know that our personal lives are finite. One major task of adulthood is to confront and accept that fact. Yet we are also compelled to struggle and rebel against it. Creativity is part of the passion of adulthood that rebels against death by leaving something new and vital that lives beyond us. Creative growth takes fight. It is not easy to make a creation that outlasts the creator. Women have always known that about mothering -- not just about the biological aspects of being a mother, but the guiding role of motherhood. When we teach children, we guide them past us. All that we have shown our children, our students, our clients, and those we mentor goes on in others beyond us. That is the real rebellion. Women are ideal as creators; biology and psychology have already given us the tools. We need the emotion to fuel action, and the emotion that allows this insurgency is anger. The anger is against injustice and inauthentic lives. Florynce Kennedy, a lawyer, advised women on political action: "You've got to rattle your cage door. You've got to let them know that you're in there, and that you want out. Make noise. Cause trouble. You may not win right away, but you'll sure have a lot more fun."17


Quote in chapter title is from Joan Mills, writing about her insights: "I'd gone through life believing in the strength and competence of others; never in my own. Now, dazzled, I discovered that my capacities were real. It was like finding a fortune in the lining of an old coat." Joan Mills, quoted in L. Clark (Ed.), ( 1977), Women women women: Quips, quotes, and commentary ( New York: Drake), p. 15.

Nancy Chodorow, ( 1989), Feminism and psychoanalytic theory (New Haven: Yale University Press); Harriet Goldhor Lerner, ( 1985), The dance of anger ( New York: Harper & Row).
Jean Baker Miller, ( 1991), The construction of anger in men and women, in J. Jordan, A. Kaplan, J. Baker Miller, I. Stiver, and J. Surrey (Eds.), Women's growth in connection: Writings from the Stone Center ( New York: Guilford Press), pp. 181- 96.


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