“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” – Henry Ford
I thought I would devote post #39 to the year I will be leaving behind – my thirty-ninth. Wait, that’s a bit of a misnomer to write that I’m “leaving it behind.” We take the moments from every year with us into each new day, right? See, I’m already wrestling with the semantics of how I feel about my age.
A friend of mine wrote a blog post about how after the birth of her children, the focus was now on her children’s story and no longer hers. She knew that naturally narcissistic youth write off the tales and foibles of their ancestors, somehow denuding the credibility of a parent’s valid life experience. Yes, all that happened…but now you’re my Mom in my life story. It sounds grim, but I’m pretty sure I felt this way about my Mom; it was only after becoming a parent myself that those tales of teenage oppression, marriage escapism, and wild communal living started to make sense. My Mom wasn’t trying to culture a fascination in me about her life; she was reminding me that before she gave birth, she had an entirely different pace of life.
Then that leads me to thinking about the end of childbearing. I’ve had friends who went into menopause at my age. Some make dramatic turns in their life direction, and others see a downward slope that approaches death. I’m not buying my plot quite yet, but turning 40 will inevitably steer me on a new course. That is just as unsettling as it is exciting.
In all honesty, I cut back a lot of things in 2013. I wasn’t as involved in my community and I didn’t volunteer as much, and those are two big ways that I connect with others. It was like leaving my personal plot fallow so that it could recoup some energy and fertility for the future. Or maybe I sowed several smaller crops that didn’t have to sustain me, they just had to grow me in new ways.
In that year, I learned which things I couldn’t push to the side. Snuggling with my kids after story time (where they always, without fail, ask me to tell them a story in “my voice”.) Eating dinner with my family. Communing with friends in small groups so I can engage in more authentic conversations. Accepting and loving my parents for all the decisions they have made for me through my life, and for the choices they make for themselves today. Allowing myself to get bummed out after measuring my life against anyone else’s because when I come to my senses I always know I have real joy and love and sorrows (but they’re my sorrows.)
Shit. I think I just went 4×4’ing off the road map of organized thought. Do I have a point to this post? Not really, I guess. Maybe I am just proclaiming to myself that it is entirely okay to have things in disarray in my life because the things that I do have sorted are beautiful and nourishing.
How do you feel about the age that you are today?
- “Self, Easy”, great blog post about facing 40
- Amen! “40 Things I can do at 40 that I couldn’t do when I was 20”