The business of growing old is like being subject to a greedy landlord, who demands payment whether you’re occupied with yourself, or shielded by mundane distractions. The years roll by, it goes faster than we ever imagined, and we arrived at middle-age compelled to look back while attempting to envision a future. To me, focusing on past is a huge waste of time, we only have the present with which to build, and I say go up. If I want to experience more pleasure I have to identify the things that give me joy. Middle age begs the question, what do I want to do with the time I have left? I feel like I’m the same person I was thirty years ago but I know much has changed. I have more confidence, I’m cured from the ‘need to please’ disease, I listen carefully to my inner voice, as well as my mother. I’m clear about the kind of people I want in my life and the life I want to pursue. It seems obvious that our passions energize us, we may have buried them temporarily while we raised the kids or climbed the corporate ladder, but now we have a new lease on life (even if we’re still paying off college tuition). If you haven’t identified what lights your fire, there is no time like the present. Find some quiet space, write down everything you love (that includes sipping coffee, petting the dog, and yes, smelling the roses), and then go back and circle the ones you can’t live without. In my circles are the people I love and the things I’m compelled to do like drink gallons of coffee, write, and hang with my grand-baby.
I also like spending time with people who make me feel good about myself, who inspires me to be my best self, who make decisions from a place of abundance instead of scarcity. It is important to have people in my life who love me regardless of my flaws, who know my heart, and stick around when I’m my most unlovable. It’s not always pretty and I applaud my husband who has stayed the course even when the road seemed impassable. Henry Miller says, “Those who are truly decrepit, living corpses, so to speak, are the middle-aged, middle-class men and women who are stuck in their comfortable grooves and imagine that the status quo will last forever or else are so frightened it won’t that they have retreated into their mental bomb shelters to wait it out.” The Walking Dead series is ironic, I think people relate to this concept on a deeper level, and the massive popularity of the show speaks volumes. Be fearless, stamp out mental apathy, and join the living. I look forward to living out my golden years with a gaggle of crazy friends and family, all of whom believe the idea of retreat is unthinkable, and consistently encourage me to step out of my comfort zone. I STARTED BOOT CAMP AS YOU KNOW! I realize I have been blessed with good friends despite myself and this knowledge is humbling.
Coincidentally, I had lunch with a college friend today, we haven’t seen each other in quite a while, but the years melted away, and we found our way back to the familiar relationship of our twenties. I was watching her describe her latest passion, a more creative field of work, and I was absorbed by her joy. She was all lite up with the nuances of this work, the possibilities, and the challenge of uncharted territory. Henry Miller speaks to this beautifully, “If you can fall in love again and again, if you can forgive your parents for the crime of bringing you into the world, if you are content to get nowhere, just take each day as it comes, if you can forgive as well as forget, if you can keep from growing sour, surly, bitter and cynical, man you’ve got it half licked.” Amen. We talked for hours but it seemed like only minutes had passed, her passion lite mine, and vice versa. We are both pursuing new ventures late in life and I have to believe the uncharted territory is part of the thrill.
I watch my children traveling the same ground I traveled not so long ago, I cheer them on as they realize their dreams, and I marvel at their tenacity and resilience. They hold my world together like Elmer’s glue, they are by far my greatest gifts, and yet they plague me with endless worry. Henry Miller writes, “You observe your children or your children’s children, making the same absurd mistakes, heart-rending mistakes often, which you made at their age. And there is nothing you can say or do to prevent it. It’s by observing the young, indeed, that you eventually understand the sort of idiot you yourself were once upon a time — and perhaps still are.” Oh yes, thank God they still love this idiot, and I’m humored by the fact that I am the future they most fear. But the future is a surprise only God can envision, I’m more than willing to pay the landlord for a few more years, as I’ve come to believe life is a pearl of great price.
If you enjoyed this post you might also enjoy Middle Age Penance or I Find Myself Rising to the Occasion with Multiple Castings of My Old Self