Sometimes it boggles my mind that I’m 56 years old (nearly 57). I remember being in college in 1980 and imagining life at the turn of the century, when we would be – horror of horrors! – 40 years old!! It’s inconceivable to be that old when you’re 20!
Well, it’s STILL inconceivable to me to be this old. I have a nearly-21-year-old daughter, for goodness sake! The child I gave birth to is a full adult! I have friends my age (and even younger) who are grandparents multiple times over! Thank goodness that doesn’t seem to be in the cards for me – Darian has sworn off children and, if I’m being completely honest, I am not broken-hearted about it. I know grandmas are expected to have all the child-rearing answers but I was never very good at infant or baby care. Come to think of it, neither was my mother, which may explain a lot. As the explanation goes, she used to gag so uncontrollably at poop smell she made my father and others change as many of my and my sister’s diapers as possible. We knew not to even bother asking for the grandkids.
From a pessimistic perspective, my life is way more than half over, and I feel like I haven’t even begun LIVING. All I’ve been doing all this time is WAITING. Certainly not waiting to die, although that’s what it’s turning out to be, but waiting to LIVE. Waiting until my life somehow becomes everything I’ve always dreamed it to be –a bohemian writer’s life, wealthy enough to not have to worry about bills, with a house full of pets and family and friends and a satisfying social life, volunteering for worthy causes and traveling this amazing country and the world.
If you believe the AARP party line, life begins at 50, but I wonder if it’s just a marketing slogan or real life for real people. I’ve read accounts of people in their dotage finally doing what they’ve always dreamed, but they’re the outliers – the rare cases that show anything’s possible, but they’re so unusual and special that people write books and magazine articles about them. I suppose I can enjoy those activities in my “retirement’ life, but by then I’ll be REALLY old – well into my 60s, when I’ll be at the recommended age of retirement in order to get a decent return on my social security benefits (although if I had an unlimited source of income, I’d retire TOMORROW). But short of winning the lottery, I don’t even see how my dream life would be possible as a retiree. I don’t have enough 401(k) or IRA money saved up, and I’ve still got 10+ years to pay off my mortgage on a house I’m not even able to live in at the moment. [An aside: Supposedly my house will FINALLY be lifted tomorrow, but even if that happens – which I’m not feeling terribly optimistic about – it will be only the beginning of months of construction, notwithstanding the assurances from my project manager Bobby that, “Once we get the house up, things will go very quickly!” Sure, Bobby, I’ll believe it when I see it. I’ve been in this apartment for three months already with no activity whatsoever so the work had better be finished within 9 months from today or my menagerie and I will be living on the street. Evidently my bungalow was so flimsy and rotted and constructed so sketchily that the back of the house had to be fortified just to lift it.]
I still feel like a kid, in many ways, even though I’ve managed to be a reasonably responsible adult for the past 20 years or so. There’s still so much I want to learn and do. I loved every aspect of school, and I would love to go back – to study WHAT in particular, I have no idea!! But I could come up with something!! I just love being around all that intellectual energy. Maybe, if the Democrats get widely elected in November (which they MUST, it almost goes without saying, starting with Hillary) and put some of their promises into practice, higher education tuition will be free or very low for lifelong learners like me.
Apart from feeling like your life is nearly over before it’s even begun, the other thing that sucks about getting old is the effect it has on your body. Ugh! Having been a person who has always had an uncomfortable relationship with my corporeal self, the ravages of age are the ultimate insult. So many doctors! So many pills! Every time I get up from a chair, it takes me a good 10-15 steps before my body moves the way it’s supposed to, without stiffness or pain. Your eyes get bad, your hearing goes (especially this generation, having grown up with loud music listened to through headphones and stuffed into the speakers at Ramones shows), your memory is shot (even worse for former and current potheads!) and your teeth become removable. And no amount of exercise and eating healthy will reverse the trend (although it MAY slow it down a little).
I read a funny list the other day in an article I found on a website called Medium.com. [Another aside: I haven’t quite figured out how Medium.com works, but from what I gather, I think it’s a website where people can post their articles and then the Medium “staff” (or an AI program of some sort?) organizes the articles according to category and sends out emails to subscribers highlighting articles that might be of interest to them based on the categories they’ve identified as favorites in a survey. I’ve been publishing my blog here on WordPress since the beginning, in March 2015, although I admit I haven’t taken advantage of all the bells and whistles available on the site. Perhaps this Medium.com is more user-friendly? I don’t know. I will explore. Perhaps you will see one of my articles there in the near future.] The post, by James Altucher, was called “50 Things I Pretend To Know Now That I Am Nearing 50.” (Of course, I am PAST 50, but it’s still a relevant list.) Some of my favorites:
“2) Experiences are more valuable than goods.
“7) Eat smaller portions. Every year you live, reduce portion size. Else you get fat no matter how much you exercise.
“21) Napping is fun.
“26) Watch a lot of comedy. Try to watch comedy every day. Laughter cures diseases.
“27) If someone’s feet are angled away from you while they [sic] talking to you then they don’t want to talk to you.
“41) The fewer things you own, the fewer things own you.
“43) If you meet someone who you know hates you, shake their hand, smile, and pretend you don’t remember their name.”
These are good things to know, no matter how old you are!!