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, December 06, 2014

aging

"I like to enjoy life. I like food, I like wine. I don’t want to spend 15 hours of my day wondering how I look. For some people, men and women, that’s their primary focus and that’s so boring."     
Kathleen Turner

Once in awhile I think about aging and what it means. I ask myself-- is there something I should be doing about it? Some who reach my age (71) feel they should discard things. They give away or sell what they feel they no longer need-- then often buy something else to fill the space. Nothing wrong with that philosophy, but I am thinking of other ways to look at an age where there aren't likely so many years left. 


What I have been looking at are the activities and people in my life. Do my relationships serve me or me them? Are my activities those I want to be doing and not just filling time? At any age, it's easy to fill time with superficial relationships and busy work; but when you get to a place where you realize less years lie ahead, frittering away time becomes more of an issue.

Last summer, when I tripped on a rug, where the playing cats had rolled up an edge, as I was going down and couldn't do a two step to save myself due to the rug having caught my foot, I knew it could be a bad fall. Beyond the rug, where I was about to land, was a stone floor and a dresser. Hitting either one wrong could have ended my life-- in seconds. As it turned out, I broke my nose. It was scary and shocking, but didn't even require a visit to an ER. Those kind of moments make a person think about the preciousness of time. 

To some degree, I have always lived as though the moment might be all there is because I've had those in my life who died very much before their time. I can't say I expected to get to old age, but here I am and making the most of being old is on my agenda. I have no fear of the word and don't go around saying, I feel like 18. I didn't feel like 18 when I was 18. Numbers are just that, but the truth is the body does change from birth to death.

Old age didn't really seem to come on me when I thought it would at 60. To be honest, my 60s were more a time of gradual changes but until near the end, they weren't that noticeable. 

When in Oregon, I had gathered together photos of myself thinking of a kind of retrospective of from 50 to 70, mainly to show what those years can be. Except there was not the huge change that I had expected. The photos didn't really tell what was happening as I had thought they might. 

Definitely looks are a factor in aging, but it's more about something else that I am thinking-- what do I want to be in these next years--if I am so fortunate to keep good health for say the next 10. I wrote this poem years and years ago and chose a photo of me at 27 to illustrate it.


When we are younger, we can put time into relationships that are frustrating or time wasters (some of that is learning about what works for us), but when someone gets to my age, it seems a mistake. Even as an introvert, I need some special people in my life, but I don't need to spend much time with those where the connection is shallow-- or has changed and no longer works-- for me or them.

Relationships, for me, (not counting family who are in a category all their own) can be broken down into:
  • People I know to smile and wave 
  • acquaintances where I will stop and say hello, ask how they are but don't expect much of an answer-- nor do they want much of one from me
  • casual friendships where we may talk about family, a recent vacation, the weather. It's pretty much public information but just a bit more of it 
  • deep friendships where I can be me. That is where I and they can let the dark and light side come through. We don't pretend to suit each other or put on a facade. There aren't many of those in anybody's life, but having a few is a real benefit.
I am at the age where I am doing some refocusing as to where I want to put my time where it comes to people. I was more tolerant of chitchat relationships when younger when I had more time ahead (probably). Today, each relationship where I put real time has to be one that can go deep or I'd rather be writing or walking somewhere. Making relationships work is about recognizing what they are and then setting boundaries-- something not always easy to do at any age.

When we got to Tucson, we wanted to have a fence that enabled our cats to go outside directly from the house. This is an area with a lot of predators not to mention the prickly things. I wasn't thrilled at the idea of a fence because I liked looking at the desert beyond my home. Once it was up though, I liked it. It offered me something that I hadn't expected. It defined space and yes, the bobcat, cougar, coyote, or javelina won't be coming on me or me them unexpectedly. The fence was built with a large double gate; so it can be left open to the area I most want to photograph. The cats are loving their new freedom and in reality the fence gave me freedom too. That's what understanding our personal boundaries does for us.
From the covered patio, looking toward the pool, which has always been fenced, but it's not a good idea to have pets there without us on the off chance they might fall in.

Along with people relationships, I've been thinking where I want my activities centered. Exercise is a given as it's needed for health, but I am not going to spend hours a day doing it. I need a lot of deep thinking time, which can also involve research and reading. I want very little time with television but when it's on, it's either news (less and less of that these days as it's easier on my emotions to get the news from reading) or something shallow that demands nothing but for me to laugh or cry a little but not feel bad when it's over. 

I did a little personality test on Facebook. Amazing how those 10 questions can sometimes tell us something about ourselves based on the photos we prefer.
You are a Creator! As the name suggests, you are a very creative, imaginative and passionate person. You love to experiment with various forms of creations, and challenge yourself at every opportunity.
One of the most important things in your life is your alone time. During that time, you let your mind flourish and your creativity go wild. Without that creating outlet, you could go practically insane.
Your creative nature helps you to always look at the positive side of life, always find the mental strength to move forward, and never look back.
It made me feel good in a way that I did know myself but also that what I think I need is what creators need. I don't need to feel guilty that I am not satisfying someone else's needs. My job is to know my own.

Where it comes to what I don't want-- shopping is at the top of the list. I remember a time I didn't dislike stores so much, but these days, stores are something to get through as fast as possible, getting enough to not have to go back soon. I also don't want to join clubs. I was never much of a joiner but had my years I did more of that. Clubs are mostly oriented toward the activity and not a place to build a deep friendship. I don't want to put the time into them (although if I was an extrovert, they'd likely be on my list of want to do activities. 

These days, I think the important place for me to spend time is what refreshes my soul and that is in nature or looking at nature. When I am in the Tucson house, to just sit on the patio and watch the quail and other birds interact with each other, to listen to the sounds the quail make, that kind of activity makes time seem to slow. It lets me look into a world beyond mine-- the world of the earth where mankind too often is in the way not a help.

For me, writing will be at the head of any list for the coming year. Wherever I am, whatever else I am doing, it is important as a way to share what I have learned with others but also fulfill myself. I especially like writing fiction, creating new characters, coming up with plots that are meaningful to me. Promoting that writing is not so enjoyable but something I need to do some of... I think :).

There though may be other activities I have not found enough time for recently. I know I want more time on rivers, sitting on a rock and feeling the sun on my back and maybe a week or two renting a cabin on the edge of the wilderness. Time with family is always important. Basically it comes down to wanting meaningful relationships and activities-- and discarding anything currently in my life that is not.

One certainty in all this-- there is less time available to me, and I am not going to fill it up, running from one thing to another looking for something outside myself. I've never been much of a gadabout. Recently I had reason to look that word up. Gadabout is a habitual seeker of pleasure. Well, I am less inclined to be one today than ever. In fact, what I have to watch out for is becoming a recluse ;). 

Anyway that's my thinking in a season where a year is coming to an end-- a time I often reevaluate where I am and where I want to be. It's been a few years since I did one of those, but I think I might for 2015.

11 comments:

Linda Kay said...

Lots of thoughts in this post today. I think we all have to look at our aging process as a gift that we are able to enjoy life as we advance. Each day is a gift, each ache or pain is a process of growing older, but usually tolerable. All in God's time. But I do think we need to take care of ourselves.

Tabor said...

My most recent post makes me sound a bit of a gad-about, except it is all doing stuff at home. As I read through your post I came to the realization that we twins in so many ways. I write...just not with the direction and talent that you put into your work. If my husband did not have his own projects and interests which keep us apart 50% to 60% of the time and I could not be alone to pursue whatever creative endeavor I chose, we would have problems.

Tabor said...

I forgot to add that nature is my tonic and without it my mood would be very bad.

Rain Trueax said...

Good posts from you all. I never saw you as a gadabout, Tabor. I have seen you as a creative person and we are a lot alike :). Being a Libra, I can find it hard to settle into one thing creatively as I like it all.

la peregrina said...

Good post, Rain. I've been thinking about aging, too, and it's interesting to read someone else's thoughts about it. I've always been an introvert and now I'm finding I want people in my life more than I did before but, like you, only people who are special to me. Sometimes I think aging is how we humans distill ourselves down to our essence. If we are lucky, that is.

Rain Trueax said...

One key I think to aging is being flexible and open to what works for now but maybe did not before. Coincidentally, it is also most likely what makes a marriage continue to work through a lifetime ;)

Tara Crowley said...

great evaluation breakdown. This is the season for reflection, as the world goes cold (in Northern Hemisphere) and days are short.

I, too, loathe shopping. Never did like it. Can't understand recreational shoppers. What a waste of time and energy!

I think I'll be back to reread this post a few times; there's much going on here.

robin andrea said...

I loved reading this, rain. Thank you for writing it all down. I feel so much the same way. I like my alone time so much. There are very few people with whom I share my innermost thoughts, and I have stopped beating myself up for not having more friends. I told my mom just the other day, that I've already titled my next birthday post on the blog-- 7 Years From 70. I'm going to be 63, but I've always known that I was born old. I really appreciate that you take the time to write this all down. I tend to think about it, and then not do it. Thank you.

Marty Damon said...

I just wandered over here from another blog and found myself reading every word.
I was surprised at how often your thoughts resonated with my own.
A good time (both of year and of life) to take stock.

Dick said...

In my 71 years (I'm a couple of weeks older than you) I've learned that there are two basic kinds of luxuries- things you can do (buy) with money and things you can do with time. Most of us do not have a lot of both at the same time.

I retired at 60 and while I could have made more money by working longer, I wanted the time. My wife had health issues and we wanted to do some traveling together in our RV. I am so glad that I took that early retirement as she died 19 months after I retired. As it turned out, we were able to spend that time together and no extra amount of money I might have earned had I worked longer could ever replace that.

Rain Trueax said...

I think you totally made the right decision, Dick. We have had many opportunities to have more money for this or that but it's quality of life that matters most! And a lot of that cannot be bought with dollars.