Thursday, August 4, 2011
Found in "Life Gets Better at 50" from The Daily Beast:" . . . [after 50] is the time to buy a Porsche and have a breakdown." The statement has a great ring to it, and I would personally love to do the Porsche bit.
But the article actually goes on to discount that advice. Writer Casey Schwarz puts forth the view, prompted by President Obama's upcoming Big Five-O, that expectations change when life starts the inevitable down-hill roll--but theres a Happy Face side to getting old, too. Optimistic Ageing always cheers me up, personally. Check out the article: http://news.yahoo.com/life-gets-better-50-012600469.html
My personal experience dovetails with Schwarz's fact-sheet of shifting emotional goals for over-50 denizens: small pleasures cast bigger shadows as we age gently towards oblivion. So I'll piggyback on this opp to plug my Small but Happy Summer Project: the simple pergola that went up in my backyard a month ago has become a vine-festooned wonder. Small potatoes, and that makes me Happy. Every morning, I look out and see those lusty gourd and bean and grape vines taking over 100 sq feet of trellis, like a bat out of hell--working the short life of summer for all its worth. Casual eyeballing of the vines tell me that an overnight growth rate of 6 inches is routine. I'm impressed. And happy. Its awkward but true: I empathize with my vines.
Actually, I love my vines. They grow with passion. They grow and never look back. Given any chance at all, they will exhaust themselves into the biggest crop they can wrestle out of their rooty depths. And true to my post-50 status, events like Devoted Vine-Watching fit into the interesting "relieved of the burden of a future" category that Schwarz mentions. Thats a great phrase, too, isn't it? Like, ok the fact is I don't need to strive to achieve a hell of a lot in my life anymore, because whats it all for anyway? I've procreated, been around, hopefully enjoyed some things, and that Big Stuff just doesn't seduce me like it used to. I'm entitled to Go Down Easy, shift in to lower gear for the home stretch, kick back and smell the roses. I can be weird as I want now, "weird" being "not trying to get ahead" as well as "mulling over hitherto trivial matters."
It's not just "love" that make the poets sing, eh. Hormones can make you crazy, but getting old can, too. Maybe the Old Age Crazy is breaking out of its "lets avoid that topic" stage, and coming into its contemporary self. Yeah, maybe the "no burden of a future" lifestyle is moving right up there with the classics: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/175907 Sadly, I'm not up to snuff on bawdy irreverent aging lit, but I'm going to work on it. The topic has captured my limited life-expectancy-view, engaged my shifting emotions, and makes me happy. So to hell with what anybody else thinks. Vines and getting old, high on my list of fun stuff.
Looking around at friends and acquaintances reveals Baby Boomer old folks--older than me, I mean-- immersed in many small things in their life, things that more active, younger adults feel are trivial. Example: my 90-year-old Mom clips newspaper stories to send to me about gaining weight, having relationships, how to grow garlic, etc., because she has the time to read through the Southern Illinoisian and glean published advice to convince her children to improve their lifestyle. Sometimes I think she is not seeing the whole picture of my social interaction, because I do have the Internet, which beats out the Southern Illinoisian about 400% on any count you'd care to name. If not more. But I believe she is happier with her limited access to Important Stuff than I am--my information future, at least, is still more burdened than hers, and I bear that happily. Or, to put it another way, if Mom is living in her own world, let it be of her choosing, and a happy one.
When I was a child, small things were more important than big things. A cat or leaf or anything within the limited scope of my mobility and powers captured my interest (being a child has proven to be great training for getting old, in many ways). Crazy priorities, maybe, when seen from the pinnacle of mid-life productivity; but very real priorities in the smaller realm of "now".
So, from here on it's Me and My Pergola, Straight Up and Meshugana.
It's a new song, Harry Nilsson.