For me, one of the problems with getting older and becoming a “person of age” is that I can no longer rely on my perky butt and cute young looks to get me through. My butt has regrettably succumbed to gravity and my face has received the marks of the growing number of my years. Those laugh lines have taken up permanent residence; even when I am not laughing. Ouch!
Another awakening that has come as I move on is that the accoutrements, the things, all the “stuff,” that are supposed to mark me as “successful” and make me “happy” are becoming a burden to attain and a real pain to take care of. Sort of a “Now that I have all this shit, what do I do with it and where has it gotten me?”
Participating and “winning” in the outside world has lost a lot of its glamour and satisfaction. This realization seems to be a quiet fact of life, of moving into the next phase, and seems to arrive around our fifties or sixties. Do I ignore this and simply continue to continue? Or, do I acknowledge this end of one time and beginning of another time in my life?
Coming to accept this change in my perspective is a challenge. These are years for which I have no clear cultural “guideposts” to direct me. A new journey presents itself. The question now is: “So where do I go from here?
The essence of the above question, I believe, rests in that remarkably small, but astoundingly large, little word “I.” The journey now must be personal and inner-directed as I have more or less accomplished all of the “outside” work that was supposed to make me happy.
Looking in the mirror and seeing not the vibrant young adult we all seem to carry inside, but an aging “someone else,” can be unnerving. That time-old question of “Who am I?” presents itself with stark power. And, if we are truly honest with ourselves, continuing to do the same things that worked twenty years ago in the hopes of wresting satisfaction from them really no longer works.
As my butt has fallen, it is time for my spirit to rise to the occasion. I have come to the immutable truth that I am now walking through the final third of my life on this earth and this path must essentially be walked alone. And for the journey to have weight and substance there is work to be done on the inside.
So, there are questions to be asked of myself, and quietly answered. How do I want to live these next thirty or so years? How do I want to show up in my life? What will bring me true joy and satisfaction now that my youth has passed and my physical energy begins to decline? Where shall I turn my mind and heart? What are the things I have never tried or always wanted to do? How can I participate in this wonderful gift of life and be truly engaged in living?
It is interesting for me to realize that rather than be terrified of the changes, I find this all rather exciting and extremely interesting. I get to create myself in the image of my own choosing. There are no more times of “must be” and “must do.” This game of moving on and getting older is entirely one of my own making.
The crux of the matter, though, seems to be whether I am willing enough and brave enough to be the caller of the shots in this new game.
By Robin Korth