Monday, January 20, 2014
The blessings of old age
My last client today, someone who is about my age, described this part of life as the Ah Fuck It life phase. She had a rather miserable Christmas with her daughter's in-laws and has already decided she won't do that again. Once upon a time she would have agonized about the decision, wondering what was the right thing to do, giving little to no thought about what she actually wanted. This is the saga of mothers. They put others before themselves. I think it's instinctual. But it is possible, at some point, to let go of the selflessness.
After she turned 60, she decided, Ah fuck it - I'm going to receive massage even if my midwestern upbringing taught me therapeutic massage is extravagant or indulgent. For her, receiving massage is life enhancing. You can't believe how important that is after age 60. I can't explain how empty all the old excuses seem, the arguments younger people use on themselves in order to avoid the very things that feed body and soul. Other things seem important during the 30s and 40s. Other things are more important then, I think.
We always hear about how crucial it is to live fully right now, right here, to follow your dreams, to let go and be in the moment, to enjoy. My question is, how do people in their 30s and 40s do that - with children and demanding jobs and mortgages to pay? They don't have time to dream! During earlier adulthood, eyes must be focused on the prize, getting to the top of the mountain, expanding the fiefdom, having the children, excelling at everything. Letting go is out of the question to a 35 year old. C'mon.
I think early adulthood is really hard. I think people need to flop around, try hard, exert themselves, including the banging of the head on the wall sometimes. It's part of our developmental process as humans. It is not an easy time even though everyone tells you that those years should be the happiest time of your life. How maddening.
After 50, things change. The 50s are definitely the happy hour of life, an awesome decade. The 60s (so far) seem both better and worse. It's easier to do all the things we're supposed to do, like not worry what other people think, like releasing control over projects, possessions and relationships that do not feed the soul. It is so liberating!
I feel sad when I remember that neither of my parents lived long enough to rejoice in the Ah Fuck It stage of life. They just couldn't make it. Getting old is not exactly easy but it is worth it. I wish they had stuck around long enough to experience this.
The Voice in the Shower says to me almost every day, These are the days of your life. There is a way in which it's impossible to know that earlier in life - at least it was not possible for me. I was too busy!
These days, I luxuriate in the Ah Fuck It stage of life. It's poignant, though, realizing how fast it all goes by.
I am grateful for every day, I surely am. Shalom.