“The trouble is that old age is not interesting until one gets there, a foreign country with an unknown language to the young, and even to the middle-aged.” – May Sarton
Months ago, I altered the name of my blog. No longer ‘approaching‘ 70…my blog title required an adjustment.
Yet….as I approach 80…I am more content, confident, relaxed…. more at ease with myself. In my mind, I remain decades younger than my given age. I hear these sentiments as well from other women friends in their 60’s and 70’s.
Most of us still working do so because it is our desire, because we enjoy what we do, and not necessarily because we have to. And if we do work, we work less. We have time to stretch our meditation or yoga practice to twenty or thirty minute intervals…truly relax into our breath…versus the rushed 5 or 10 minutes jammed into the frantic rush that was our life.
Friends my age are leisurely tending their gardens, reading voraciously, enjoying their grandkids, kayaking along the Maine coast in the middle of the week, sleeping-in when they please, vacationing more frequently or for extended periods of time. A few are writing books. Some are exploring their creative side in pastels or fabric art, gourmet cooking, photography.
Most find ways to stretch their social security check and IRA’s to meet daily needs, with money left over for leisure activities….all hopeful the accumulated stash outlives their mortality.
Friends are also, sadly, burying older family members, close friends, and life partners. Some are recuperating from unanticipated surgery or a cancer diagnosis. Others are caring for severely ill parents, ailing spouses…or are babysitting grandchildren to assist their adult children struggling with the overwhelming cost of childcare.
This period of life is a study in extremes.
It is a time of great joy….and ambivalence.
Of freedom and burden.
Of gain and loss.
A friend has invited me to join her newly forming ‘Women and Aging’ group. The timing is perfect. I feel an interest, almost an urgency, to explore the barrage of emotions and new insights I’ve been wrestling with. We begin in October with women between the ages of 60 and 85, gathering via Zoom. In preparation for our discussions and processing, we have been requested to read, ‘Women Rowing North” by Mary Pipher. You may have read her bestseller years ago, “Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Lives of Adolescent Girls”.
I began the assigned reading while on vacation last week. I was hooked by the first line in the first chapter: “There are many lifetimes in a lifetime.”
Think about that.
Pipher also writes…”we elders must maintain clarity about the kind of women we want to be”.
I continually revisit this thought.
Perhaps acknowledging the short runway in front of me, I have become more honest with myself. I own more of my ‘dark side’. I know I can be judgmental, easily injured by the behaviors of others, prone to withdraw when experiencing emotional pain, minimize my needs and accommodate others. I have not always handled myself well when I am hurt or angry. Although I love the depth to which I experience emotion, at times my emotions overwhelm. I have less tolerance for these unhealthy behaviors I deem unbecoming the woman I desire to become. I check myself more frequently to assess my authenticity.
I seek relationships with women I trust….those who are comfortable sharing their stories, expressing their vulnerabilities, who openly process their flaws and request feedback, who own their improper behaviors apologizing when appropriate and celebrate with abandon their accomplishments and moments of happiness. Through these precious relationships I learn, change, grow. Openly expressing our love of one another we simultaneously, with tenderness, hold a mirror to our blind spots. There is a mutuality, a loving contract of honesty and desire for personal growth that we share. I am confident the upcoming “Women and Aging” group will embrace this powerful, limitless protocol.
Quoting Pipher again, “until we understand how short life is, many of us make the mistake that our routines will go on forever, but after our awakening, we realize we’ve taken far too much for granted. We only have left a finite number of full moons, spring mornings, and nights out on the town.”
Time is running short. Live the best life you can muster…totally woke….and to the fullest.
4 thoughts on “Aging: How’s it Going For You?”
Once again…..profound, insightful, helpful and such TRUTH!!! I love the way you write and hit the bullseye every time!!! You are an amazing writer, Mother, Wife, and friend. I love you sooo❤️❤️❤️❤️🌷 much!! I miss u!!!
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Margaret, Thanks so much for sharing your very personal musings. I can relate to much of what you describe as we head down that shortened runway of life. Mary Pipher’s quote in the end of your article speaks volumes. I’ve never been more aware of that reality than I am now as I struggle with my body under siege. The process of coping with diminished wellness is the challenge of my life. I must accept it without giving into it. As Ram Dass said with regards to coping with a debilitating stroke, “I have to work with what I have.” Keep Musing, Thomas
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Thank you, Micki. My writing for me is about connection, hoping what I feel and experience resonates with others. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Miss and love you, too. xo
Thank you, Thomas. Happy to be traveling with you on that short runway, yet sad to know so much time is dedicated to your health. So true for many of us at this age. I agree…we all work with what we have at this stage of life….that all the other stages prepare us for. Like you…I squeeze out as many precious experiences as I can, living in the moment, being present to myself and grateful, as much as possible…in between the challenges.