On Purpose and By Accident, We Change
Our lives are tempered by our age. A baby does baby things. Kids think and act like kids. Mid-lifers have careers, raise kids or not, and do what they do. Those later on in life, like me, get to do the same. Or do we?
How is your life tempered by age? Maybe you are not letting that happen and working at not letting your life be changed by getting older? It seems a good strategy on many fronts. Still, getting older changes us and we can cooperate with it, or fight it, and it’s usually some kind of combination of the two. I am more of a fan of tempering than not giving into the changes as they come.
The phrase “age-tempered” is more useful than the sometimes used “age appropriate.” I think I know what is age appropriate for a 5 year old. Anything above 60, not so sure. There are so many age appropriate things we can be doing that are the direct opposite of each other, age appropriate is not so useful. What is good for one is not good for the other.
Here is one way to think about age-tempered living: what do you say yes or “more-of-that” to, and what no’s and “less-of-that” are you declaring– to the aging stereoptypes and images our culture feeds us.
Two big streams of stereotypes come at us: the good ones, and AARP supplies plenty of these, as our 65 plus bodies don helmets and bikes and off we go for a ride with our sweethearts in a Maui vacation sunset. The bad ones abound as well, and are worth saying no to–elderhood is losing mental capacity, hip and knee replacements, and waning energy as we dotter off to our TV’s as not fully human anymore.
So we say yes and no, do more or do less, to work, friends, TV, reading, walks, our gardens, card games, to all our activities and habits, all the time, all day long.
What are some of my temperings? I’ll go first, but I hope you do the same for you. Make a list and take note of what you are doing. And notice the quality as well as the quantity of these buckets of activity.
For me, I love tennis, maybe more than ever, even though I play it less than in my go-go years. I found time, much to my surprise, to live the winter in Houston with Patricia. I read more, take my learning seriously, (though the MA I got at age 65 put a nice bow on my formal learning life). I memorize more poetry. Meditate more. Pray more, especially gratitude offerings. I have more time for friends, walks with Patricia, sleep and naps, getting carried away by the beauty of trees, (and baking mulberry pies after picking the berries) more guitar and learning songs, listening to the grandkids provide snippets on their mishaps, discoveries, and school labors. I also put on more sunscreen than ever, a fruitless attempt to stem basal cells and Mohs surgeries, make more visits to the physical therapist, and find a part of myself by attending church regularly after decades of being un-churched. I found time for these more ofs, like many of us, by working less, while enjoying the work I do more than ever, much like the tennis.
I have done all these qualitative and quantitative temperings with varying degrees of deliberation and intent on the one hand, and on the other, just letting things happen naturally and following where my energy and leanings take me.
Now your turn. What about you, what are your temperings? Give it a shot and see what you catalogue. Then let it go, take a nap, and do what comes naturally.
We need to trust ourselves that at this life stage we are ready to do something both good for our souls and for the world. Even the small things.
Keep tinkering and tempering.