Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

The best years of my life

Reading articles and blogs by others, it's interesting to me especially when the thinking relates to old age. We all get there eventually if we are lucky. What will we make of those elder years? What is possible to make of them? Are they different than earlier years or does it all flow along with only physical changes as the true differences? 

We are all different for how we age, how we have lived. I can only answer those questions for myself, but I've been thinking about it for assorted reasons.

Some people get to old age and have regrets. They wonder what if I had taken this road or that. How would their life be different? I think about it but more from -- wow, supposing I hadn't been able to have children? Supposing we hadn't gotten the farm when we did? Supposing I had spent my life wishing for things I never got? How would that change my today?

Well I did get what mattered most to me, but I admit my goals weren't huge ones. I have not gotten everything that I thought I'd want, but I've come darned close.  I didn't dream of being a prima ballerina or a famous artist. I didn't dream of wealth. What I wanted came under the realm of what many want except maybe the farm where not all wish for living a rural life and raising livestock.

The farm is a huge aspect of my life today; and although it has its problems and limitations, I can only think what a disappointment it would have been had I never lived this life as I wanted it so much. 

And it wasn't a short term want. I grew up on a farm and I could only think how much I wanted back to that life. I got it. It's not the farm I might've imagined wanting, but it's so darned close that the differences don't count. I have lived and am living the dream I always had. 

Where I may not be able to convince others that they should buy my books or that they have the quality I think they have, I can write and nobody can stop me. The dreams we have that depend on others are the most iffy for bringing us joy.

I am one of those people who has known throughout my life how wonderful certain moments are. I've savored them and lived them fully at the moment I had them. I then have no regrets about what I didn't get or what didn't last longer.

When my children were small, our daughter three and our son six months, I remember thinking-- this is as good as it will ever be. I am at the height of joy. I am strong as a woman, in my own prime at the age of 26 or thereabouts. I remember especially one moment when I was at Mass. I sat in the pew, my two children on each side of me, husband just beyond. I knew my strength was as strong as it likely ever would be. Although I knew my children would grow and that was what made the current years so precious, they were mine at that age in a way I also sensed they would never be again as the world would reach out for them. It was a time of pure joy. And knowing I had that moment then makes this moment joy also because I lived it totally with no regrets then either, no wishing it ahead or behind. 

Living in the moment is a joy but so is knowing that some specific moments are special. I have had so many of those in my lifetime. I won't go into them all, but the important part was that I recognized them when I had them and can relive them on the rare occasions when i think back. I feel joy at knowing i didn't miss what was possible.

That is how I am living old age. Aware in the moment of what I have and savoring it. My body is not the strongest it will ever be but it's still strong enough to do most of what I want it to do. It's not the most beautiful it has been. There's no doubt I do sometimes look in the mirror and go-- oh my gosh; but I believe letting go of the need for beauty of the more sensual sort is part of living happily with old age. Surgery is a way around acceptance, but it doesn't fool the body for its real age. While I would like to lose weight I am not letting that wish ruin what is.

The writing I have been doing is work but also a joy even though marketing is not. To be writing original stories gives me such pleasure, but I remember when doing sculpture did also and painting a painting that came out as i wanted it to come. Creating and the joy it brings doesn't mean others appreciate what I do. If I had to receive that from others, I'd find this a less pleasurable part of my life. If I instead concentrate on doing the best I can and letting that be my joy, then what someone else thinks about it can't hurt me. It can teach me.

Putting my books out proved to be a joy to me also. For the first time what I wrote was available for others to read. They could choose not to, but I had taken the risk of putting it out. And it does take some being willing to do that to put any creative work out and into the market where it can be rejected. Again, it's creating that is the joy; we can't determine how others will perceive it. If we let that be a factor, we will be depressed or joyful but always dependent on someone else, not ourselves.

Right now for this stage of my life a lot of my creativity is about writing and creating characters and plots. But the beauty of this moment also is-- something else might yet lie ahead. I don't have the feeling of some oldsters that the best years are behind me. The best years are always right where I am-- not denying its reality and sometimes limitations but fully living them. 

Later this year, I will have my 70th birthday.  I believe one thing is true of life. There have been wonderful moments. There have been those I just had to get through. In the end though, the one I am currently living is the best because it's the only real moment. That will be true until the end of my days. That doesn't mean, when they come to my mind, that I cannot savor those past times that were the best then. They are part of this one.

 At the beginning of this week, I turned off word verification and am just using moderation. I hate the word thing as they are so hard to read, but I may have to go back to it. I don't mind moderating but what I dislike is having my email swamped by spam and right away they were back. grrrrrr I guess they must be computer activated as it's the only explanation i have for how they are so quickly back. I loved the month without seeing all the spam in my email but I'll see how my patience holds up for how long before word verification returns...


DJan said...

I turned seventy late last year and find it to be a nice place. Now that I am certifiably old, I feel a bit of release. BTW, I got rid of my spam by blocking anonymous comments. It is completely gone. :-)

OldLady Of The Hills said...

This is such a thoughtful post Rain...Much to ruminate on and much to 'feel' about....
I am almost 12 years older than you----I will be 82 towards the end of June----I must admit, 70 now seems like a walk-in-the-park....So much has happened to my Physical Well Being to change that "walk' to a Rolling Walker, among other things....But, like you, I have no real regrets---no 'Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda'...I STILL try to find the Best in a day, if I can---even if it is just a small thing---like a phone call or a flower....
BUT....,like the saying goes..."Old Age Ain't For Sissy's"...it is certainly true for me and for so very many people I know who are struggling with illness and infirmities...Still....I'm here. Disgusting Physical Problems, and all.
Early, yesterday morning--Friday, a man working with my Gardener here below my house in my Garden, keeled over and died, instantly. A Heart Attack so the Coroner thinks. It was horrible for my dear Gardener, who tried to help him to no avail. 911 and 5 Firetrucks---20 Fireman and Assorted Police people later etc...they took him away---his life snuffed out in an instant. My Gardener, Seven, was in deep shock. Life can be over in an instant---and that certainly is the way to go, I'm positive----but, one wonders what this man's life was like other than working in the Gardens of peoples homes? I think he was in his early 60's....Now he is gone. This shaped my day and Seven's day, too...Is there a lesson here? I don't know. Except, to savor all the moments we can, whatever they may be, while we are still breathing.
I'm Happy for you that you are getting such joy from so many things in your very full life...That is terrific!!!
And you know one thing that gives me joy? When I think of the adorable little Lamb pictures you have shared with us---Such dear sweet babies....Thanks so much for that Rain....I LOVE the way you embrace life!!!

Sorry if I rambled on here---I'm still pretty much in shock, myself, I guess.

Rain Trueax said...

I hate to do that DJan because I have several commenters who do post anonymous and whose comments I like to get but it is a thought as the word verification is terrible. I can't figure out why they don't make the letters clearly legible but maybe the computers could then read then? I don't know.

And that is a terrible experience, Naomi. It is also a reminder and i agree on old age having some hard spots in it as I was near to my mother and mother-in-law's experiences with it and I get it that the 80s are where it begins to get tough. The alternative though is not to be there at all as i already know so many who aren't. I think it is in finding those small things to enjoy and do. That's what worked for my mother especially as she lived out here on the farm in a mobile home (which we are still trying to figure out how to remove). And sharing them in the blog as you do gives joy to others.

We got two more newborn lambs unexpectedly with two of last year's lambs lambing late. I did put some photos of the lamb gangs in my Rain Trueax blog in a post called Spring has spring. You might check it out. Although I write there a lot about the creative process, I stick in photos sometimes that you might go and look for now and again. I'll be sure and take some more as we are having very good days for photography--- worrisome though for being so dry so early (always the rose and the thorn in life)

robin andrea said...

Such a thoughtful and beautiful post. I really appreciate your "be here now" attitude. I'm going to be 61 next week, and Roger is going to be 71 in August. We're the elders now, aren't we?

Celia said...

Very interesting post Rain. I just turned 71 and my next down sister 69 and our converstions lately have been similar. Our children are all in their 40's busy with their lives and their kids, and we see less of them. I'm okay with it, she's not. I haven't forgotten how my life seemed to be in hyperdrive then, kids, job, yada, yada. I have some regrets but I think that's normal, part of the job of moving on into aging. I am working on recapturing my creative side and feel fortunate that I still have the opportunity to do so. Every time I think about what holds me up it turns out to be me. I truly admire your writing and publishing, such an exciting commitment you've made to your art. You rock girl.

Diane Widler Wenzel said...

In April I turned 70. All in all this is definately the very best time for indulging my passion for creative painting and collage.
I am so very thankful for what I have learned about creative process.
I just want to share how wonderful and enriching experience art is. Drawing and painting can be what you make it. There is no need to be the most talented artist to have a truely great artistic journey. It really is not necessary to buy the best equipment or have a large high tech studio and premium art supplies to endulge yourself.

la peregrina said...

Wonderful post, Rain, thank you.

Hattie said...

You have been so lucky. I think of the 70s as a return to creativity. It seems that way for so many.

Cro Magnon said...

I can remember, as a child, feeling as if life was PERFECT. Usually this was in Summer, wearing shorts, eating ice cream, etc. I would concentrate on that feeling of 'perfectness' so that I could remind myself of it when, or if, I became ill. It never seemed to work, but I'm still doing it.

Lynn said...

Though provoking post, Rain. At 72 I finally seem to fit this mind and body. I was shocked to find an elderly precaution information insert included with the last prescription I picked up. What do they know? I’m fine, strolling along a tad bit slower and enjoying the view. Words come to mind ~ tranquility, serenity and grace . . . I wish them all for you.