Wednesday, December 3, 2008
The Older I Get ...
Today I was pondering some of the good things that middle age has brought my way. I certainly won’t count the gray hair, the crow’s feet and the sagging skin (and other bits) as fortuitous, but beyond the surface of who I am, I’ve come to realize that a certain amount of favorable maturity has occurred. For that, I am extremely grateful! In no particular order, here’s a brief list of things I’ve come to count as truth:
1. It's stupid to drive too fast. As I watched in my rearview mirror, the young man in the souped-up tin can darted from the left lane and charged towards my bumper at warp speed, attempting to cut in front of the car that he'd just been behind. When he veered back into the lane next to me, I glanced over and caught a glimpse of his face – such a boy, and oh, so foolish. His face was set in lines of angry concentration, a thin veil for his obvious exasperation. I do remember being his age, and how I too could scarcely abide being "stuck" behind someone driving at what was actually a normal speed. Why was I in such a hurry? From where did that impatience and impertinence stem? More to the point, where did it go? In direct contrast to my youthful Speed Racing, I no longer care how quickly (or slowly) it takes me to get from Point A to Point B. I really don’t even care if I’m going with the flow – especially when the flow is fast and furious. I’ll get where I’m going in my own good time. It will take as long as it takes. I simply can no longer be bothered to rush when I drive.
2. Taking a nap is delightful. While I don’t exactly recall being forced to nap as a child, I undoubtedly was up to a point, and I probably rebelled against it as most children do. Nowadays, however, I think there’s little that's nicer than pulling back the quilt on a Sunday afternoon, snuggling underneath with a good book or the TV’s remote control, and drifting off to dreamland in the middle of the day. If our culture only observed the afternoon siesta, I’m sure we’d all be so much better at being human.
3. Choosing your battles is wise. In my younger days, everything was an issue, especially where the man in my life was concerned. If I felt he’d let me down in the slightest, you can bet that drama ensued. If his behavior was not quite on par with what I expected, I’d first pout (expecting him to somehow just know how he’d offended), and when he failed to assuage my hurt feelings as I hoped, oh boy – watch out! Somewhere along the way, I’ve lost the desire to dwell on trivialities. If Rocky disappoints me in small ways (which he rarely does, but being human, he’s bound to on occasion), I chalk it up to the fact that he, like me, is imperfect, and I choose to forgive him instead of harboring resentment. I can’t begin to tell you what burdens were lifted when I hit upon the realization that I don’t have to prove that I’m right, I don’t have to set others straight, and I don’t have to dwell on hurt feelings. Admittedly, this is an area where I’m still learning to make application; however, just knowing I’ve successfully grasped the concept is empowering to me.
4. Little children are worth watching. When I was younger, before my brothers came along, my family and I used to joke that many people we knew who had babies did nothing when they congregated except for “sitting around and watching the baby.” As I aged, I noticed those of my peers who were having kids of their own did the same thing – just sitting around and focusing solely on the child(ren). BORING! Adult interaction was infinitely smarter, hipper, more pleasurable. When my niece came along 6 years ago, followed almost 3 years after that by her younger brother, I began to notice that my icecap was melting. Something about having those new little lives in my family made me realize how very enjoyable it is to “sit around and watch the baby.” Not only are they precious in form – sweetly plump, all unlined innocence – but it’s fascinating to observe them as they take in the world around them. They are forever changing, growing, developing, and what an absolute privilege it is to be there as their discoveries unfold! Engaging with little ones not only brings to mind the blessedness of the entire circle of life, but also causes me to draw forth at least some small part of that child that still lurks within my middle-aged body. And how can that possibly be anything but healthy and good and right?
5. I’m not a wimp. I’ve learned that I can actually withstand a good deal of physical pain, whereas I once would’ve been certain I’d crumple and wither away at the slightest hint of discomfort. (How else to explain the fact that I have 12 tattooed designs on my body? And I used to think I was afraid of needles!)
6. It doesn’t all have to be done today. OK, so maybe this is really just an excuse for bone-idleness, but I’ve truly come to the conclusion that my seemingly never-ending “to do” list doesn’t really have to get done right away. I hope to accomplish everything some day, but many times, when I’d rather grab a good book or a cold beer, that’s what I choose to do. Thus, the list goes on, and the chores remain … but that's ok. It really is.
So, there you have it – a few things I’ve learned as I continue on my journey. It’s so nice to reach a new place of understanding, to take on a point of view that you perhaps never felt possible. Certainly we're all on this journey of discovery together, and as we make our way from cradle to grave, I believe it's important to take inventory every now and then of what we know. Sometimes, even the smallest things are amazingly, eye-openingly profound.