In my blog post last week I discussed some realizations I've come to about the changing nature of Christmas, the physical realities of aging, and my growing abilities to relax rather than being constantly on the go and to let go of unnecessary complexity. I was recuperating from pneumonia and spending quiet time, so I was noticing these things about myself.
Several of the responses were from people I haven't heard from before and most acknowledged a similar situation in themselves. I'm always interested in hearing that I'm not the only one experiencing such and such physical or mental or emotional issue. I love that we're all in this together.
Then I heard by email from a good friend of mine who had a different take on my post. She said, "You need to come home soon. I miss you and you sound depressed. Sorry to be blunt. You are NOT old. We all experience those aches but we don't have PMS or cramps any more or all that awful angst about 'who am I?' I have a ton of energy and can't wait to get up in the morning - we need to see if your CPAP is working correctly. If I was there with you I would kick your butt. Be glad the kids are grown and gone. Job accomplished - well done. This is your time."
I am 66 and this friend is a year or two older than me. She has just recently retired. She is smart and interesting and relishing her new freedom. I respect her opinion so I took another look at what I'd written that prompted her response.
I had forgotten about the PMS and the cramps but I am heartily glad to have them in my past. And the existential angst? I've noticed myself being more accepting and calm about The Way Things Are. I'm pretty content with who I am now. These are only a few of the gifts of aging. I'm thinking if I were given a choice to be 46 again, or 66, I'd take the 66.
I think sometimes I lose sight of what I've gained and pay attention to what I've lost. That's not good, and I'm grateful to my friend for the virtual kick in the butt.
So here's another take on my thoughts of last week.
1. I'm grateful for all the years of Christmas with kids and the years when we traveled or just enjoyed quiet times.
2. I'm grateful that I'm past PMS and cramps and angst, and for modern medicine that provides cataract surgery to millions of elders.
3. I'm grateful to be surrounded by people and activities that interest or provoke or confirm, and that I have the freedom to choose what I'll do with each day.
4. I'm grateful that I'm learning to let go of things over which I have no control and to pay attention to ways I can be useful.
5. I'm grateful that I can sleep until it's light outside.
As usual, it's a matter of perspective.