Tag Archives: senior citizens

Putting sand back in the hourglass……

“It’s never too late.”

Um, yes it is. I hate to add fuel to anyone’s already overactive angst, but I’ve run into this gremlin way too much this week. It hides under the bed, waiting to snap at your ankles as you get out of the bed in the morning, or huddles in your closet ready to grab your wrist as you dress for an evening out with friends.

Time is a controlled substance and a commodity that doesn’t care what you do with it. It keeps ticking away as you make decisions, no matter how valid or valuable those choices are–or not.

When we are young, the end of our life is so far away, out there in the misty future, that we waste a lot of that controlled substance. People give us advice, but we don’t listen. None of us do. Maybe we even ask people we trust for guidance, but as the decision looms closer, we do what we want, often counter to that advice. And our own best interests.

But, in reality, we presuppose that time will never run out for us. The gremlin has bitten my ankles, though, and drawn blood this week. And I never did make it to the event I was dressing for as another wizened goblin  twisted my wrist to the point of tears.

Regret is the offspring of wasted time. Wasted chances. Unfortunate choices that will never be  cleaned up, decades later, as I now recognize where the road zigged and I should have….not.

I know better now. About many things. But my biggest regret is that the sands that trickled out of the hourglass of my life–my life, for God’s sake!–can never be funneled back into that delicate vessel.

Rather than end on that desolate note, here is what I would tell young(er) people from my vantage point today:

  • Behave as if today is your last day on this spinning top. Because it might be. Think about that with dedication every morning of your life, BEFORE the goblin snaps at you.
  • Spend time now considering what kind of life you want. What kind of partner is best for you. What career fits your goals and personality. And then set your course to get those things.
  • Don’t let other people–ANYONE–live your life for you. Make choices and decisions based on what you want for you, not what will make them happy. Seeking out advice in advance is advisable, but make sure these people don’t have a stake in the outcome of their words of wisdom. Consider if they have an agenda counter to yours, and then do what is best way for you to embrace the life you want, the one you spent valuable time unearthing. (Besides, some people are idiots, let’s face it.)
  • Spend time learning to love yourself. No matter your religious or spiritual beliefs understand that the fact that you are here is all that is necessary for you to be “good enough.” Period.
  • Have more fun. Laugh, be silly, watch clouds once in a while. Dance, or paint, or write, or blow bubbles every day. Whatever. Life is to be enjoyed, not endured. To realize this near the end of your life is excruciatingly dismal.

Believe me.

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Details, details….

“What’s an encyclopedia?”

The question was posed in earnest, no shame in asking, right?

What astounded me the most was that it had never occurred to me, baby boomer in full regalia, that there are  people inhabiting my  planet who had never seen one. Encyclopedia, that is.

You might have a different thought here. Why were we even discussing such a topic?

Trivia. No, the answer isn’t trivial. It was the topic of conversation that day–trivia games and our various aptitudes for bringing forth irrelevant and unimportant scraps of information, often tamped down deep in our grey matter.

I’m good at trivia. So good that many worthy combatants have gone down like a jet in a massive nosedive. Never to darken my card table again. (Yes, I do also have a problem with people disappearing from my life, but that’s a topic for another dark, vodka-steeped day.)

Anyway, I started wondering where I got all these disconnected, obscure facts. I do read–a lot–but today I devour detective novels and sappy love stories, not historical nonfiction. Even though I taught history for years, but it was to 13-year olds so it doesn’t count. I read to escape, so I know all the shades of grey and every formula for motive-means-and-opportunity.

Ah, but wait! As a kid, growing up in my house could be, well, distracting. (I was thinking of using another word, but some of those people will be reading this, so….) A therapist later told me (oops, another clue) I reverted to a soul-saving technique called “duck and cover.” And my activity while I was cowering, er, I mean covering, was to read the encyclopedia. In my room, curled up on my bed to make myself as tiny as I could be. Maybe that way they couldn’t see me, right?

I must have filed all that A-Z data in a lockbox way behind my ears. And when the trivia games heat up, the skeleton key to the box magically appears with a flourish and I WIN! I’m as surprised as my opponents when those answers fly out of me, unbidden.

Young people don’t know, have never even seen, the 24-volume set of books containing the knowledge of the world, right there for anyone–including little girls hiding under the covers–to devour.  So, how do we preserve concepts like this for today’s devotees of Google? They carry the uber-encyclopedia around with them in a pocket or their hand and don’t have any historical frame of reference for it.

Astounding. Or is it like schools that don’t teach handwriting any more? Does it really matter?

Trivia anyone? Like, aren’t there 26 letters in the alphabet?

A……Haiket?

 A Haiku*—or two:

Being older means

looking back and wondering

which wrong turn mattered.

 
 

Would it have mattered

if I had not turned away

from this road—or that?

 
 

Or if I had let

my head-strong will and my heart

have equal footing?

 
 

Would it have mattered

if I had taken control

and embraced MY dream?

 
 

Being mature means

seeing with clearer vision,

what truly matters.

 
 

It can also mean

embracing a new vision—

Embracing one’s heart.

 
 

Today, I look back

and see that multiple paths

rose up before me.

 
 

Some say “no regrets.”

I say we don’t learn the truth

by ignoring it.

 
 

Being mature means

Finding peace from knowing

My life is…as is.

_________________________________________________________________________________

*Haiku is a very structured form of poetry that originated in Japan. I choose to write in the traditional style of Haiku for the discipline demanded from its structure:

First line = 5 (and ONLY 5) syllables

Second line = 7 (and ONLY 7) syllables

Third = 5 (and ONLY 5) syllables

Traditionally, also, Haiku is meant to be a snapshot of something in nature. A butterfly resting on a rose. The sunrise. A flower dancing in the evening breeze, awash in its mysterious scent. Any Haiku I have written to date follows this dictate for the most part.

For a writer who normally runs on and on (meaning me), this is first an exercise in being succinct and precise. I love it! In most cases, though, Haiku is simply ONE set of three lines: 5-7-5. Being me, though, I have chosen to string together a series of “Haikus” into one cohesive “Haiket.” There….I invented a new form of poetry!

I have also been indulgent here, and used this beautiful art form to reflect my soul as I move into–and through, because we are never done– the status of Active Master. We do not stop desiring or hoping or striving as we age. People who say we do are, well, boring and have probably always been that way.

We are simply more wrinkled as we do it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What will it be?

retirement_road

As I moved through the first day of my retirement, everyone kept asking me what I had done all day, as if my work day had to be supplanted with something. Right?

Our society is fueled by work. We learn a trade as young adults and then we practice that brand of work in order to earn the currency that is traded for it. That currency then is traded for our lives. Literally. We eat, we have a roof to sleep under, we clothe ourselves. So, we must then work some more to sustain the whole thing.

Is it any surprise to anyone, then, that we align our entire identity with the most visible talisman of our worth? The one that sustains and insures that the wheels stay on the track of our existence?

When we stop working, what happens to the whole system then? In the case of retirement (because there are people who intentionally jump ship earlier on purpose), we have traded all that currency as long as is necessary in our society, and hopefully have enough to sustain us throughout. Until we die.

Maybe that’s the rub. We realize that our end is breathing down our necks, a salivating beast that we cannot hope to outrun. Many people avoid retirement at all costs, fearing what lies on the other side of that alarm clock that jangles them awake at the crack of dawn.

Others fill it up with more work. We’ll see how I do.

“The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.”
Vince Lombardi

 

 

 

It’s a minefield out here…..

It’s a dilemma. My mind is that of a woman of 40, maybe even less, but my body tries to betray me whenever I’m not looking. I’m not looking because I’m appalled at what is happening to it, with wrinkled and droopy skin, veined hands, and other signs too personal to discuss here. (Yes, there are things that even I won’t talk about.)

My dance instructor wants me to incorporate sensual hand movements at certain places in a routine and all I can do is giggle. Yes, I can still giggle like a girl but don’t ask me to do that with my arms in a rumba, OK? It’s not “seemly,” as my grandmother would have said, probably when she was the age I am now. If I laugh at it, I can just imagine what those on the dance floor with me are thinking. And, let’s face it, my instructor is not even 40, with an agenda that requires him to encourage me to do such ludicrous things. Cute, but unaware on a personal basis about what many of his students are facing either now or imminently.

I have a fear of not recognizing a boundary between the way I feel and the way I look. I feel young, probably younger than I felt when I WAS young. Transformation can happen at any age, and it did for me about 15 years ago. Not sure what prompted it, but let’s face it, I used to be boring. Smart, but not much fun. Today, I’m a hoot, but it’s a dilemma for me to be this really young soul entrapped in a body that betrays me on a regular basis, even though I take good care of it.

It’s not bad for a woman in her mid-60s, but no one but me ever sees ALL of it anymore. I know what’s under the clothes and those shape-shifter things that merely push skin into strange places and requires great strength to peel off. Needing to use a restroom while having one of those things on is a recipe for disaster. Believe me. Another betrayal.

I have no solution for this dilemma, one that I’m sure many women face, at least if they are interesting, vital people at all. Where is the line between staying young and presenting oneself as ridiculous? It is a great fear for me, and I’m not sure there is anyone I can trust to be brutally honest about this. We live in a society that reveres youth above all else, with little respect (or actual disrespect) given to anyone over 50 or so.

To maneuver between the two worlds—aging and a youth-drenched society—is a minefield. I don’t know where all those landmines are hidden, but I know they are there, just waiting to explode if I make a misstep. It won’t be pretty.

Older women know who they are, and that makes them more beautiful than younger ones. I like to see a face with some character.

I want to see lines. I want to see wrinkles.
Naveen Andrews

Say what??

Do people under the age of about 30 know what it means to JAYWALK? A local flashing traffic sign—one of those huge monstrosities that screams to be noticed—warns passers-by (most of whom are in cars, which makes the message moot, right?) “NO JAYWALKING!”

And I wondered if most people today even know what that means, especially in a city that lacks adequate mass transit. We live in our vehicles; we’re not out jaywalking or participating in other equally nefarious activities.

Which made me think about other terms that have fallen out of use or have taken on a different meaning. Like….

**dial a phone?
**consider the source?
**lose your marbles?
**knuckle down?
**pardon me?
**the devil is in the details?
**like a broken record?
**be kind—rewind?
**ride roughshod?
**by dint of………?

No wonder the generations often don’t understand each other.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place at all.” George Bernard Shaw

Breaking up is hard to do……

At any age.

I find myself in the silliest situations, even though one would think that I had learned enough by now to avoid the yawning potholes of life.

Again, one would be wrong.

Why would a woman of my age, the age at which she just got her first social security check, find herself writing a blog about “breaking up”?

Yet, that woman is me.

The breakup happened several months ago, but the ripples from that unfortunate event only finished gurgling within the past couple of weeks.

The problem, I guess, is that I have this notion that decency is possible even AFTER a relationship ends. That two people who have been intimate can continue to maintain a positive connection once the intimacy is over. (I will show my age here a bit by confessing that I’ve never moved from a relationship to a “friends with benefits” configuration. I do keep my options open at all times, though.)

I believe that life is too short to collect bad karma by collecting enemies along the journey of life. And I’ve managed that in most cases. But this last one, not so much…..although I have tried.

We broke up (at my instigation) and agreed to remain friends. We still have common interests, like college football, music, and eating out in memorable places. Why not continue to share those interests? Only one of us really meant it, though. Again, silly me.

I even reached out after a period of time and, upon my invitation, we attended a musical event along with dinner, a friendly occasion on a Sunday afternoon. I thought he needed to actually see how this could work and he agreed…..at the table. But, once we went our separate ways, he continued to keep those ways very separate. The door slammed and hasn’t opened again.

And since this is the only configuration he seems to know after a relationship split, I gave him what he wanted all along: another “ex” to add to a string of similar beads.

Maybe I’m naive. But I still think it’s just sad.

GAME OVER