Sunday, January 11, 2009
What Changes, What Stays the Same?
I'll be 56 on February 13. Never one to wait until my birthday actually arrives, I prefer to start worrying about it six weeks in advance, apparently, because I've been thinking about it a lot. Already.
Ever since I turned 50 I've been asking myself what I want for my old age. It's an interesting question that can be posed at any age, though by 50, with the clock ticking faster and faster, it seems prudent to focus on what's ahead very specifically rather than philosophically as I did when I was younger.
I've been taking special notice of old ladies lately, trying to project upon them my own self in fifteen or twenty years, asking myself, Is this where I'm headed? Is this what I want? (I guess technically, with my gray hair, I could be called an old lady. Maybe I should say older ladies.)
So many older ladies are all shriveled up with bitterness and anger, full of regrets about their lives, judgments about themselves and others, scornful about everything that's not as good as the good old days. Others look confused, vague, unable to connect with the world as it is right here and right now. Needless to say, I am not interested in either bitterness or confusion in old age.
My goal is to be robust and jolly as an old woman, lighthearted, clear. I want to be one of those old ladies who laughs out loud without apology, says what's on her mind whenever she wants. Especially, I want to be kind and forgiving in old age. Kind to a fault is what I want to become.
Some days it's easier than others to cultivate these qualities, all of which are rather foreign to me. In early adulthood you could never have found a more intense woman than I was. I was anxious, angry, fearful, and heavy hearted. But I have lightened up as I've gotten older, and it's true that kindness comes more easily than it did even just ten years ago. I'm headed in the right direction.
In extreme old age my goal is to be clear as a bell, translucent even visually if possible. In that way, at the end, I hope to slide effortlessly out of my body when the time comes. Doesn't that sound nice?