Middle-Aged Angst

So what is a person who has, as Bill Clinton put it so eloquently in his speech at the Democratic National Convention, “has more yesterdays than tomorrows”, to do with the rest of their time on this earth?  It’s a question I’ve been wrestling with since my mother passed. My mother was someone who enjoyed life’s simple pleasures, but it isn’t that way with everyone.  What will bring happiness?  What will keep me relevant in a culture that does not appreciate its’ seniors?  I watch people, and the human condition is of great interest to me.  Maybe it’s because of my early theatrical training…I don’t know, but I have been watching the middle-aged and seniors with great interest to evaluate what to do and what not to do.   Here are a few things that I’ve done recently (for better or for worse):

  1.  Got a tattoo!!!!!!!  Yes, I know, this is a very cliché thing to do, but I didn’t do it just to do it.  The standard tattoo isn’t my personal style.

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No, I headed down to True Blue Tattoos in downtown Austin with art work that is classy and not trashy…at least in my mind.  It was a picture that is very symbolic in many ways and is just, well…me.

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I went in armed with my copy of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass”.  I love these books because of the silliness and absurdity.  Very much like life to me.  Much like Alice, I find myself trying to make sense of a world that I am existing in for the time being, but find it hard sometimes to understand.

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(I will be adding some of the critters at a latter date!)

The above quote resonates with me as I tried to find a reason to stay a member of the LDS (Mormon) church and also to find a shred of tangible proof that any of the doctrine is true.  Ultimately, I could not.  Joseph Smith was not a chosen prophet of god.  What he was, was a polygamist who also practiced polyandry.  All of the others that came after him are not god’s chosen and inspired.  They are just men.  Nothing more.  Like for Alice, a clear-sighted realization came.IMG_3549IMG_3553 (1)IMG_3559 (2)

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I did have an active LDS church member comment on my tattoo, saying that I was defiling the temple that god had given me.  This came from a person who weighs about 300 pounds and didn’t get that way by eating healthy or exercising, which by the way, I do.  Who is defiling their temple?  The woman who eats crap and doesn’t move the body she was given or me?  I do view my body as a temple and am grateful enough for it to take care of it.  My tattoo is just a pretty piece of artwork that I chose to hang on mine.

2.  Well, the next thing I did was also a cliche…I got a new car!  I know that lots of people get the “mid-life crisis” sports car, but I was content to get a little car that wasn’t a mini-van or SUV!  I’ve come to a point in my life where I don’t have to transport any more than 1 or 2 passengers at a time or need extra seats to seperate fighting kids.

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I’ve always wanted a Subaru (don’t ask me why) and have had a blast driving this little zippy Impreza!

3.  I picked up a new hobby.  I started learning how to sew this past March.  The whole process has been gratifying and infuriating at the same time.  It’s a skill that will take YEARS to become proficient in and I’m afraid I won’t live long enough to get to where I want to be!  I know, I know…it’s about the journey!

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In recent weeks, I’ve seen examples of how I don’t want to age.  We all know the saying that comes with ageing “being stuck in your ways”.  I think as we get older, it is key that we don’t.  I’ve seen that with many seniors, they get stuck in a period of time mentally when they have felt in their prime.  They become stuck in their opinions, the way they dress…I know you get the picture.  Many of us will unwittingly come to a point in our lives where we stop experiencing, stop growing, stop learning and therefore remain stagnant for the rest of our lives.  We shrivel mentally and physically, becoming a burden to loved ones, but I’m certain that it doesn’t have to be that way.  I believe that, genetics aside, how we age is directly affected by the choices we make.  We have the power to feed and move our bodies now, so that we stay strong for our so-called “golden years”, but we also have to embrace the future and not hold on to the past or “the good old days” with dug in heels as many seniors do, in order to continue to grow, to experience new things, and be open to new ideas.

One of my biggest fears is that once my kids have families and lives of their own, that they will dread having Jim and I visit because we are old fuddy duddys who can’t stop talking about the old days and are negative about everything and only talk about how our bodies are falling apart!  I want them to look forward to our visits!  I want to be able to relate to their world… the current world and be optimistic about the future.  I don’t know…maybe the latter is a pipe dream.

What do you think?  Getting older is inevitable, but we can remain youthful in spirit, don’t you think?  How do you plan to “live” and not just “exist”?  What are you doing or planning to do for your golden years to keep your presence on this planet relevant?  Oh, and in case you are wondering…the above will not be my only tattoo (wink, wink)!

3 thoughts on “Middle-Aged Angst

  1. I agree with you on most of your thoughts. Yes, our society does not look fondly on elders. I am hoping this will change with the baby boomers coming of age, so to speak. However, over the years spending time with older family members I truly believe their past has shaped their now. I know we have choices, but many did not have the fun loving childhood I did. There are elders who’s minds have developed so they cannot be happy and move one. They don’t have the connections in their brain to do so. It won’t change for them no matter what we say or do!

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  2. I feel like you do on many of your thoughts like…wanting to find new hobbies and not wanting my kids to not want to come visit …unfortunately I have seen first hand what “heredity” can pass on when it comes to medical issues but I believe we don’t need to share it all with others and become the person who can only talk about their bodies falling apart… I like to always see my glass “half full NOT half empty… Hope this helps me as I age!!

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  3. My mother was born an orphan and was shuttled from household to household of family members who didn’t want her. She didn’t let that hold her back. She learned how to read, write, and speak English when she married my dad and moved to this country. As she got older she continued to grow and kept her mind active. She did have kind of a hot temper when she was younger, but she mellowed with age. She also continued to take pleasure in the simple pleasures of life. She was not ready to leave this life and was angry about her illness. She wasn’t done living. She felt she had more to do.

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