Archived Aging

(This was written for Bliss Magazine 2 yrs ago)

Today I watch my 20something daughters pack for the great unknown that marks the beginning of their adulthood.  On the other channel, my 89 year-old mother is living in the great unknown of dementia marking the end phase of her adulthood.  And  at 50, I am in that midrange,  seeing the world from a point of reference which encompasses perspectives that seem, at times, conflicting.

Do I want to be 20 again?  Honestly, no. Those years were, in some aspects, hay days, glory days, life affirming days.  In other ways they felt frighteningly uncertain and depressing and impertinent. Yet I can recall with nostalgic charm that being 20 in the 80’s was pretty rad. Live-in boyfriends, The Clash, job hopping, the launch of MTV, a time of political conservatism that collided with the liberal views of my contemporaries, a time to ignore the warning on the cigarette box. Moisturizer?  Sure, skin care was important, but I remember many a night climbing into bed without having first exfoliated.

And I thought I didn’t wear a swimsuit well THEN! Oh mercy.

And the great unknown! Where would I live?  What kind of career was I interested in pursuing? Would I marry?  Have children? Here one day, there the next!  I can feel the excitement welling up as I write!

But do I want to be 20 again? No.

In some ways, my current phase has just as many questions, maybe in some ways the same questions.  Will I sell the house and move to smaller dwelling? What direction will my career take?  If my daughters choose parenthood, what will it be like to be a grandparent?  Here one day, there the next is a bit more calculated now, yet still resides in my wanderlust spirit.

And do I want to stay 50 forever?  Honestly, no. There is something about the human lifecycle that makes sense to me.  And I must say I do appreciate my ever changing, growing and expansive perspective.  I can relax more and commune with my spirit in a more profound way.  The rushing around and have-tos have been replaced with blissful meditation and want-tos.  I’ve learned to say “no” gracefully and not give a thought to what others think of me.  And even with exfoliating and moisturizing regularly, it’s freedom, baby!

When my mother turned 80, there were many things I was suddenly considering that hadn’t been a part of life previously. Where will she live? What will she need from her children? Will keeping her mind and body active matter to her?  Here one day………gone the next?   The hardest part to work through was knowing how, when, or if to intervene with her decisions.  Having no frame of reference for what it’s like to be 80 I could only make intuitive guesses.  My intuition told me to trust her intuition.  And even in her changed state of cognition, she still has the wisdom and insight to know when to defer to someone else’s judgment and when to follow her own compass.

So to my daughter’s I say, go, enjoy each luscious phase of life. It’s both too short and too long to not follow your compass. Trust in yourself as much as I trust in you.

(Note: My mother passed Oct 12, 2010 at the tender age of 91. Her dementia was truly a gift and I grew closer to her and relished her aging the last few years of her life than I ever would have imagined!)

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