Saturday, August 31, 2013

The long view

A life is just a life, no more than that, but no less either. This is one of the gifts age 60 has given me. It's a gift that is not possible before this age. The long view. The wider perspective.

It's a good thing it's not possible to know that life is just a life during the 20s, 30s, 40s. We're meant to strive and struggle, try to understand ourselves, expand our fiefdoms by partnering, marrying, having kids. We're meant to strive and struggle at work, too, during early adulthood. It's a rather significant chunk of a life.

Before age 50 (in general, I'm not talking about everyone of course) we have to wonder if we should have or could have, or if, going forward, we should or could _____________ (fill in the blank). At 50, in general, all the particulars that seemed crucial earlier in life become less important. OK, we aren't rocket scientists or brain surgeons or famous violinists, or we didn't live for a year in Paris as we had planned. We let go of ambitions that were never achieved, we begin to deeply appreciate the sweetness of our lives as they unfolded, not as we wished they had.

Life is so sweet at age 60, absolutely precious. I never, not ever, thought I would feel this way. The perspective is well worth the indignities of old age, including living in a society that is tragically ageist.

At least it is for me.

A friend said recently that earlier in life, we must be like a tree, we must grow tall and strong, produce beautiful foliage and delicious fruits. In old age it is our job to become the forest. I keep thinking about that idea, of becoming the forest. It resonates.

Today and tomorrow I'm gathering my wits about me prior to Monday morning when John, Manuel and I will pack our stuff in the Prius, drive through Pennsylvania, along the Susquehanna river. After Corning, we'll be officially in the land of the finger lakes.

For years, I've wanted to go up there. I've heard the call, but never did anything about it. This year I am 60. What the hell am I waiting for?

The condo where we're staying at Lake Canandaigua has a dock on the water and a panoramic view of the lake. The moon will be dark so if there's a clear night, I'll get to see the Milky Way. You can't imagine what this means to me.

We are going for hikes on trails with waterfalls, we'll visit the wineries and Canandaigua's little downtown. In the evenings we'll cook, watch movies, drink wine. We've got books and a jigsaw puzzle and wi-fi. We are so excited!

I hope to tune in to the wisdom of Hiawatha, of the Iroquois nation especially the Seneca, a tribe I've had a heart connection with for many years. I love my book of Seneca folktales and mythology. Those are some crazy stories they told! For instance, the creator of the world as we know it, Sky Mother, was pushed by her husband through a hole in the sky. If not for her fall, we would not be. It's interesting to think about!

I believe mythology arises from the landscape. I wonder if I'll be able to feel that from the land, or if the spirits will speak to me. I'm going to try to find the right wavelength, perhaps not possible in five days. It's worth a try.

A trip to the finger lakes is about to become a folktale in the Reyaverse, one of the stories of my life. It's just a life, that's all. It's no more than a life, but no less either. I look forward to adding this story to my myth cycle. It feels epic.



Anonymous said...

I am three years behind you but can relate to all of your points. The other issue that comes into play is loss. I am not sure that I have become better at handling it, and I have to work at not letting it damper my enthusiasm by predicting when it might happen next.

ellen abbott said...

Oh me either. I want to hear your stories. I've always felt an affinity for the Navaho but perhaps there is some of the forest dwellers in me. I could easily live in that region except for the whole winter thing.

Reya Mellicker said...

Yes, the losses! It's part of aging, for sure.

ain't for city gals said...

I am two months away from turning 60 and I feel exactly the same way as is just a life and what I want for the next part is peace. When I go to the cemetery to spruce up my dad's grave I feel the peace and realize that my dad knew what was important in life and dying and I draw on his strength each day.

Reya Mellicker said...

Ain't for city gals ... it is a big crossing, turning 60. But you get through it and then life is so very sweet.

I'm not sure about the peace. At least I've not had access to much of that except at a very deep level. The sweetness more than makes up for the tumult.