What’s Age Got to do With It . . . ?

I am about to enter my last year before sashaying into the Sensational Sixties. In preparation, I have pondered what knowledge I have accumulated through this decade, and thought about all I hope to discover in the years ahead.

Learning Lessons

Learning Lessons

When we are small, our grownups are constantly teaching and reminding us how to behave. Our parents work to instill impressive manners, the Golden Rule, and how to live among the many. As we grow older, we test those lessons, then make decisions to toss or to keep. Most often, we toss such teachings only to retrieve later when we are mature enough to know that the lessons are worth keeping and/or when it comes time to teach the same lessons to our children.

I believe it is in the fifties that we come full circle to reach a balance between what we were instructed and what we have experienced. All of a sudden, what others think matters less, and what we think of ourselves matters much more.

Speaking my mind is easier, and in most cases, respectfully accepted. I put much thought into my words, usually, so when I do find the words to fit my honest thoughts, I do not sound cutting or condescending. I do not always succeed, but I would not be my father’s daughter if I didn’t bite with my words from time to time.

Mostly, hurtful words are the result of impatience. I expect you to immediately know what I am talking about, and, if you don’t, I may not want to use the energy to repeat myself or, worse yet, explain what I am talking about. Once someone told me “If at first one doesn’t get it, then never try again.” Of course, they were joking, but I do not like to repeat myself, although I do, all the time.  Sometimes I repeat myself because I am unsure that you are listening or that you have fully appreciated what I have just said, as though what I just spoke will change the world in this instant.  Hypocritically, I need others to often repeat themselves so I can hear clearly and understand. Maybe age brings about a sense of entitlement.  Don’t you, my peers, just want to sometimes say, “Deal with it!!”, and walk away?  Yep, me, too.

Through a gradual process of which I was unaware, I discovered that I have more patience for some folks, and less patience for others. Children can get on my nerves longer now than when I was a young mother dealing with children. Grandchildren bring about this change. Unkind people wear me out, and my fuse runs very short with negative comments, and people who judge can send me into a rant. I guess you can say my tolerance level has higher highs and lower lows.

Contrary to who I was twenty or thirty years ago, I no longer judge others simply because I have no need to compare myself to anyone else. It is a fact that when you judge and compare, you will either see yourself as above others or beneath them, and neither is true. Life stresses this truth so when we arrive at an older age we will have no need to waste time on useless endeavors. We can love everybody, even if some more than others.

Having always boasted that I am not afraid of dying and growing old is all in my mind, let it go on record that I am still certain that I am not afraid to die, but growing old is spilling out from my mind to consume my body, too. My stamina, although strong, is not like it was 30 years ago. I move slower and forget faster. I depend on a routine and must follow it or I find keys locked in the car or the Vodka on the cleaning supply shelf. I think longer before I speak because when responding too quickly, insane sentences find their way out of my mouth, and the Vodka is not always to blame.

If I wear a red hat and purple, may I join you in laughing at me?

Stunning

When I grow old . . .

In my late teens, I worked evening shift in a factory that made washers and dryers. After work, I would party all night, sleep a few hours as the sun came up, go back to work and repeat the fun. Today, I can party a little before dinner, but I cannot dare be late with my bedtime, and when I party? Tea with ginger snaps, and a little brandy to warm my brittle bones suits me just fine.

In my twenties, the more, the merrier, and the only prerequisite to spending time with me was that you wanted to have fun and not worry about tomorrow.  In the midst of consciously aging, it is now important for me to know that you have depth and live your life with some honorable intention or hope to change our corner of the world. I do enjoy a few minutes of idle chatter about the sale at Nordstrom’s, but please hurry and get to your thoughts on health care, preserving endangered species, or how we can help our friend dying of cancer. Substance.  At my age, I need substance.  After living decades through the climates of change, substance is expected, don’t you think?

I find that these days I love with a new intensity.  I hold the memory of  kisses longer before I let them flee. When I hug, it’s the bear kind that means business, because a hug says “You’re not alone.” “I am happy to be with you.” The past few years have taught me to touch – a warm pat on the back, a meaningful hand shake, a touch on the arm. When we are younger, we are too inhibited and fearful of what others may think. I am aware that people comment that I am weird, but I don’t care.

Can you see a pattern forming?

Trust. Such a simply complicated concept. When younger, I trusted without reserve, which, of course, is very unwise and causes great pain and suffering, so through the years, I stopped trusting anyone except my most beloved pets, Miss Prissywhich is why it was so painful to lose them. Today, I trust some, and some, I trust. I feel blessed to have a few people in my life whom I trust unconditionally never to hurt me and to always have my best interests at heart.   There are a few people I trust to always do what is right, and a few, still, that have earned my trust to simply understand.  I even have in my circle those that are trusted to laugh and act silly with me, while, still, I know those who can never be trusted for anything, much less taking up space in my heart or head.  Trusting is multifaceted.  I may not tell you a secret, but I will trust you mail a letter.

A few months ago, it got back to me that someone I admired said I was “too intense”. This bothered me for so long. I guess it still does, but it is true.  I am intense.  I take life and most of what I do seriously.  This is probably temporary after recovering from going through a difficult divorce and losing both parents in the past three years, and I will try to lighten up, but, there comes a point when acceptance plays its hand, and I must say, “This is me, good or bad.”  (**Except when it comes to losing weight, which is another post on another day when I have not eaten chocolate.)  Trying to always perfect oneself is extremely taxing when I have grown tired of paying the taxes.

As sad as it is to dwell on, time is running out for do-overs, so I have to get it right whether I am making a new friend or sharing with a loved one. Truth becomes more important the older we get. Illusions fade as the years pass, and reality settles in. Hopes can stay, but they are now logical and short-term obtainable.

There are many past actions of mine that I am not proud of, but the redemption is in the learning and not repeating. It is alright to make mistakes as long as they are new ones. Regrets, there are many. I will arrive at a place where I fully accept that everything in my life – even the regrets – served to deliver me to the place where I am. I take solace in that whatever my regrets are, they have been useful tools in burying the past and gaining wisdom.

My Flowers

One morning, recently, I woke up and knew it was time for “the talk” with my daughter. You know the one – “When I die, take me here, bury me there, and don’t you dare get rid of that cracked vase from Great Aunt Beulah!” This discussion is more somber but no less dreadful than stuttering out the awkward tale of  the “birds and bees”.  I am becoming more comfortable with the conversation because, by living, I am preparing to die – we all are – and I certainly want  this last act to be worthy of a standing ovation.  It is a fact that I may reach my 80’s and change my mind about everything and give my riches to some stranger who happens by to admire my plastic flowers in the window box.

Now that I am reaching the autumn of my life, I have many experiences to draw from, and by now, have learned that I have some control over the battles I choose, and the front line no longer holds my pride. The false pride has long been exposed, and my scars, tears, heartaches and bumps in the road have painted the path that I now skip along.  These things do not define me, but they have shaped me.

Admittedly, it will be nice to reach that “age” where I can wear slippers all day and nap without worry, when soup every day is appetizing, and only the sweet memories, albeit enhanced, remain on my mind. These sunny days are coming if I am permitted the privilege of reaching the Winter of my life, but until then, I will continue learning those pesky life lessons, and as Jenny Joseph writes in her poem, “Warning” –

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

 

Older.  Wiser.So, on I go celebrating birthdays, making new memories, adding to the foundation of what my life stands for, for it is true that all we need to do, we must do while we are here.  I certainly will laugh every chance I get, give love at every turn and hold no grudges. Grudges will mar my sweetest memories when I need them the most.

The sensational, sexy, simple, satisfying, sassy 60’s are on their way, and I will not miss one minute of the ride.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. dachsielvr
    Apr 12, 2013 @ 06:54:01

    Thank you for your timing in writing this post. I am 18 days from entering the last year of the 50’s and was dreading it. You have given me new perspective. Hope to see you in IL soon.

    Reply

  2. Sue Schmidt
    Apr 13, 2013 @ 14:25:55

    I am about 6 years ahead of you and can relate so much to what you wrote. I especially liked the part about “substance”-not getting caught up in idle chatter and negative conversations. Since losing Bart-my focus each day is to look for the blessings that are there. They have been abundant indeed.

    Reply

  3. Trackback: “Wish I’d Had the Courage to Live a Life True to Myself” | Beyond Halfway

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