I am having a hard time getting old. No, not because I have aches and pains or because life is harder, but because I can’t feel myself as old.
From what I hear, you are supposed to be conscious of this. That you should feel tired, worn out, beaten down, ready to “retire” from life. I don’t feel any of those things. True, I do enjoy luxuriating in my bed a little longer in the mornings when I wake up at six because it is warm there and because I don’t have to drive to the office anymore (but neither does anyone else right now), and I do enjoy… what? Can’t think of much different from before.
In truth there are a few privileges. I do love having Ian to run the company and Shauna to be the editor of the Gardener magazine and the Hub, but I love being able to write for them all and to have time to pursue other fascinating things. It is nice not to have to carry all that burden alone.
But being old? Sorry. I just don’t get it.
Maybe I am one of the lucky ones. Since I had my little heart issue about a dozen years ago and now have to take a bunch of stupid pills, I have never felt better. I don’t have a lot of aches and pains – well, a few, but nothing serious or that I can’t deal with.
Mostly, everyday, I am excited to wake up and learn something new, to take on a fresh challenge, to discover a new opportunity.
Yes, I do have a few more wrinkles in my skin than I used to – sometimes they surprise me, but then I have to laugh and ask myself what else I should have expected at almost 76. I like to think of my friend, Midge, with whom I roomed when I was in Vietnam last February. At 84, she merrily sailed through a six-km bike ride while I failed cycling, dismally. (I fully intend to move those damn bikes out of the basement next summer).
I doubt that I am alone. While there are folks who are ready to take life easier at my age, I just want to proclaim to the world that doesn’t include all of us. I still have a lot of living to do. And I bet you do, too!
There are things that come with living a long time that I do notice, though: I am more patient and a little less demanding (I think). However, I still expect things to be done right. Sorry, just “good enough”, is never good enough. If it is worth doing at all, it is worth doing it the best you possibly can. Nor do I have much patience with those folks who take credit for the ideas of others or run to the head of the parade and pretend they are leaders when they see a trend happening. I think good ideas are usually an amalgam of a number of inputs and, if I am lucky enough to put the two and twos together, I like to credit the first one who gave me the idea. That way they are encouraged to continuing feeding these creative thoughts to the rest of us to use in building something bigger and better.
I also hope I don’t take myself too seriously. I know that I often chuckle at the ridiculous mistakes I make. I think that, too, is a gift of accumulated years. I still love to learn and am still trying to figure things out. I guess that is a lifetime quest for the human race.
I love the energy and enterprise of young people and try hard not to interfere with their utopian dreams. Who knows? They may not be able to change the world completely, but each generation has made it a little better based on the same blind optimism and determination. Who would want to squash that? They will learn soon enough that human nature militates against communism, but youthful belief that is possible perhaps instills some balance in a necessarily greedy world.
Each morning, I am glad to greet the day with a sharper appreciation of its beauty and at its end, I am happy to allow myself to ease into a blissful rest knowing that sleep is a healer, not a hindrance that interrupts my endless busy-ness. But I am glad of the busy-ness that fills every hour with urgency and excitement.
I look at things differently now, because I actually take the time to look, thinking back to all those incredible experiences in my life that I allowed to slip by, unremarked and unappreciated. I have learned that when you really look, you see so much more. Life has a luminescence that underlies every experience. It goes on in its perfect way in spite of all the chaos that surrounds us and there is beauty even in the most painful moments.
But, yes, I have a hard time getting “old”. I am looking forward to all those new things I am going to learn from the earth and from others. You can’t do that if you are old and have given in to the accumulation of time.
Here on the cusp of a new year, I am eager to explore the future, try new things, and take part in the unfolding of the universe as it carries us into what can only be a brighter day.