by Francine Van, Guest Contributor
Aging brings forward the essence of life. Defining this spirit is impossible because of the uniqueness between us and I have learned the emotional weight we carry contributes to its demise. Families and friends layer burdens unintentionally in addition to doctors, grocers, transportation needs, or any other interaction. As a person in pea-time or the ripeness of my life, I decline the use of senior as an adjective to describe myself. Elder a little better at least implicates some wisdom in the matter. And ripe is defined as developed. I like it. This quote reminds me to embrace all seasons of life, not just the spring of our lives:
“To be interested in the changing seasons is …a happier
state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring”
~~ George Santayana
I found my spirit challenged a few months ago with medical tests, and the thought of knowing when the possible period at the end of my life sentence may come physically, decided to sit still. I realized the busyness I had created and allowed around me. Me, who is me now?
I stopped answering my phone, except to necessity, emailed those close to me that I was fine, and I was, just not well. I had no goal but to indulge myself. Some of the days I watched TV all day, movie after movie with a glass of wine or I sat and felt the wind.
But I continued two obligations a few days a week. One to a school lunch program and a half day volunteer gig with a retail recycler. I learned I had chosen well after numerous attempts volunteering for different causes. I found one as a cashier enjoying interaction with the public helping shoppers find deals in a restore. I also found a part time job at schools that offers the loving energy of children. Their hope and sincerity will lift anyone and their truth telling, like how old I am, punches directly at my ego. Talking with children has no room for self importance.
I took a month off. I stopped social engagements of any kind filtering them slowly back, but with limits. I found myself writing more, my passion, and working on some projects that have been laying around without progress. Needless to say, I found my spirit. Honestly, it is never really lost, just buried under the emotional weight or what I have come to define as death by a million cuts. I believed this to be part of aging, but again, now realize it happens all though our lives.
Awareness and confidence are the only solutions. Awareness of how you are spending your time to ensure balance. I believe that in retirement the façade of the golden years, or fulfilling a notion of a perfect grandparent, or dedication to volunteering to help everyone in need, will drain you. Thus, the confidence in choosing your activities for the day to help you thrive is the most important goal of each day. Learning to say ‘no’ is a requirement. Take time to feel the joy of life. I would never have guessed being on a school playground would bring light to my spirit, but it does and for now my life continues with a comma. It was only a pause after all.