A friend of mine, with a fiftieth birthday looming, was beginning to see life, suddenly, through different eyes. Because I had crossed that same territory quite a few years earlier, she interviewed me about the view from where I now stood and she was heading:
1. I’m getting older and now I see where there are times when I’m the oldest person in the room. How do you make peace with age? How do you stay young as you grow old?
You must remember that you are just on the cusp of “getting older” so you haven’t gotten used to it yet. Though you’re still in your forties, the big five-oh is approaching and that is a mental landmark, just as the big four-oh was. Take a minute to wrap your mind around this Mental Factor. Remember how it felt to be 39.9? That’s behind you now and you’ve made your peace with your forties. It’s the same deal with every decade but happy people figure out the charade that numbers can create and they begin to delight in the joke of it all. So, by the time you reach seventy, like I have, it’s just hilarious.
In the room? Yes, there’s a relativity but I find that distance between myself and another person is created by something more intangible than an obvious factor like age. I’m checking for “personal vibes” and if I find the rare individual with whom I’m in sync, then all other factors disappear. We both communicate on a rather mysterious wavelength. For those without the vibes.….ultimately, the fact of the matter is that we only occupied the same space together for a brief while. How old either of us is has no bearing on the matter.
Make peace? I love the idea that I am moving inexorably towards the end of life. My curiosity about what is next will someday be satisfied and I can’t wait. In the meantime, I think up things to keep me busy. It’s like I am “moving towards something,” and the years are the yardstick.
Stay young? I am younger now than ever. Back when I was a new mother chasing children around, I was pretty young and enthusiastic, bouncing with new ideas and abundant creativity, but I wasn’t as happy as I am now. It’s the core of a person which determines this. We must be in touch with our own core and this involves contemplation and communication with the mysteries, with God. Our core has carried us through many lives and is the part that flows out of this life and into the state of being that we will find ourselves in after death. Aging can’t change that core though it can enhance it. Either that, or it makes our outer covering more transparent so that what is inside can shine out ever more effectively.
2. It is depressing as I watch my friends get sick and sometimes die now. How do you cope with that?
I don’t know. I don’t “cope” with it. I don’t know very many people who have sickened and died. Well, let’s use Jean as an example. She was, and still is, dear to me. Last year at this time, we all had just shared that dinner on my birthday. Though she probably already had the pancreatic cancer, no one knew about it, including herself. When she did find out, things were nearing their conclusion.
She was very private about her exit and her children took charge and protected her from the rest of us because she really didn’t want us to see the wasting away and the pain she was going through. So, I could only witness her decline from afar. We had talked about death before her troops circled close and we both felt similarly happy about the whole idea of leaving the earth. She had lived life very well; had seen her children, and even a grandchild, into adulthood and felt that God had certainly kept His side of the bargain to allow her to raise them as a widow. She was totally content and at peace. She also completely loved God and had a lifelong close relationship with Him.
The only difference that I can imagine in how I would do the same, given similar circumstances, would be that I will not “battle” (as in chemo/radiation) my final diagnosis. I will embrace it. So sez I, at this moment, anyway. I didn’t grieve for Jean. I just saluted her for a life well lived, a death well done, and sent her a cheery “See ‘ya later, alligator!” in my mind. Where do you think that our Intergalactic Friends come from anyway? We have said goodbye to them in some long ago someplace, and then we run into them again in another life. Naturally, we recognize them and are happy to take up where we left off.
3. What are three things you used to worry about that weren’t worth the trouble?
Oh, that’s easy. At least, I can think of one thing: the freckles on my legs. They gave me a lot of trouble, psychologically, in high school. My big nose in profile. And, my flabby thighs. That’s about it.
But, actually, I love my dear legs, including those not-that-flabby-anymore thighs, because they are so strong and they try so hard and succeed so brilliantly at carrying me and my backpack all over the world. They want to please and I wouldn’t trade them in for anything. And my nose is so helpful to me. It breathes very well, albeit a little stuffily from living in this airtight house. I sure wouldn’t want to do without my nose. No sirreee!
Perhaps I did have the phenomenon of worry, back when I was in a toxic marriage. “What should I do? When should I leave?” If I hadn’t listened to myself and made my careful twelve-year plans (till the children grew and left) to skeedaddle, then I would have been a big bag of worries by now, because I would have opted out on my own life.
(This interview will continue on my next post.)