Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Treading the Path of Wise Women, A Review of Lorna Kalaw-Tirol's Coming to Terms: Writings on Midlife by 15 Women

Coming to Terms: Writings on Midlife by 15 WomenComing to Terms: Writings on Midlife by 15 Women by Lorna Kalaw-Tirol
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this book. On a whim, I picked it up during the Filipino Reader Con last December and I made it my nightly read because I think it was designed that way. The book is made up of essays and I liked lingering on each one. I realized something too. I wanted to read a book on midlife because I am fast approaching midlife myself. I thought, why not read a book by wise women? Each contributor is an amazing woman and I look up to the editor as well. As I was reading through the very intimate stories I realized a gap between generations. The women in the book were talking about their empty nests and grown children. What are they talking about? I'm going to be in my forties soon but I have a toddler and a son who is just in Grade One. Then I realized: they married younger. I married later than my own parents. They married at twenty-five which was the convention at the time. I married at thirty and had my first child at thirty-one. My second child at thirty-five. Most of the women who contributed must have married at around the same time my parents did. At forty-five, they had children who were already in their twenties, off to college.

But I learned something from each one. Some of the more memorable essays had to do with: 1) a swan (the model of a woman of grace and independent means), 2) freeing oneself up to the universe, 3) learning to let go of my husband and children (this was the story of a widow which tore me up. I cried and cried and it took me a few days before I could go back to reading her essay again), 4) learning to let go of my career (this was the essay by Tessie Tomas which really touched me...since I'm a workaholic myself). Each woman gave me a gift to guide me through the coming years.

Reading Coming To Terms made me think of life beyond my forties. It made me think of legacy and the love I am leaving behind. Because that is the most important thing...not accomplishments, not monetary means, not even bringing up my children well. The most important thing is to love and let go. I have no trouble with the love part. It's the letting go part that I'm still muddling through. And I'm so blessed to have read each essay that imparts so generously what it is to live a full life.

Thank you so much to Ms. Kalaw-Tirol and all those who contributed to the book. I am treading the path that you once walked on....different stones, different streams --- but all leading to the same place of enlightenment.

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