Swirling Out

esher_loxodromeIIThis is going to be one of those depressing little ditties older people write when it looks like there is not much sunshine on the horizon. Oh, there is sunshine and flowers and soft breezes, to be sure, but I just don’t see them quite as brightly as before.

This is not an insurmountable-odds sort of thing; not a terminal disease or death of a loved one or a catastrophe of nature. This is a melancholy of a different kind. It’s the kind of thoughts you have when you have fewer years in front of you than behind, and realize that your contributions to society have been minimum (to say the least).

Not that I wanted to be a Congresswoman or a Rock Star. I’m happy with my choices in life. But it often seems that the choices I’ve made in my pretzel-logic sort-of-way have not always been the smartest ones. As much as I’ve always enjoyed my job, I’ve always been a little A.D.D., causing me to get an extra lecture or two along the way. Taking medication for the downs of my life have added more complications, as now I’m sleepy during the day, another lecture or three. I’m working on that, but, as usual, it’s after the damage has been done.

More to the point is what I’m finding as I get older. People’s attitudes, people’s opinions, are slowly becoming…mmm…a little more condescending. Tolerant. Indulging. As if I’m slipping slowly into dementia. Which, as far as I can tell, I’m not.

It starts slowly. Almost imperceptibly. People start questioning you. Telling you what to do. Turning you in the direction they think you are supposed to go. Telling you how you should respond. These people mean no harm — they are truly trying to be helpful.  I don’t think they even realize they are “telling” me more and more what to do. As you get older, you have a tendency to do both…tell people what to do and be told what to do.

I am beginning to realize why older people get grumpy and depressed and frustrated. Every time someone tells you what to do, what not to do, and it’s not what you want to do, you have to make a choice. Either don’t do it and get static, or do it and give up a little piece of yourself. Not hunks and chunks — just chinks. Fighting about who’s right isn’t always the answer. As through my whole life, I’ve had to pick my battles. Sometimes it seems that I could make a battle out of everything. And that’s not the way I want to live my life.

I am not always right.  Far from it. I’ve always been a little left of center, causing trouble where trouble shouldn’t be,  giving up when my career choices soured. I’ve never been Einstein, but I’ve never been a moron, either. Sometimes it takes me a while to “get it.” And I know as I get older, I frustrate those younger, as I don’t make decisions as quickly as I used to. I react with my emotions instead of my brain.

But that doesn’t mean my decisions are wrong.

I’m finding that these days my energy wanes, my writing suffers, and my dreams are popping like bubbles. Again, I’m working on all of that, but lately I’ve wondered if all of it’s worth the effort. For now I have my health, my family, and charm. Shouldn’t that be enough?

When you’re older, there’s not much room to turn around. You have to hold onto your job, your health, as long as you can. So it’s better not to make waves. Better to give in and do what you need to do to move on. I’m not saying everyone over 40 or 50 or 60 needs to roll over. There are many  sharp, successful working people that still have a chance to make a difference. They have dreams, they have potential. They are mentors and creators and holders of the future. They’re not flaky, left-of-center pretzel logic people like me. And I’m not sure I have what it takes to change at this point of the game.

I have to learn to let go.  To not challenge, not cause trouble. What is that saying —

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

As long as God doesn’t pat me on the head I’ll be fine.

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14 thoughts on “Swirling Out

  1. I hear you, Claudia. My motto is “Let go or be dragged.”

    In my life ecstasy mellowed into a more comfortable and consistent kind of contentment, interrupted by flurries of “what ifs and whys” that I use to figure out what’s real or imagined.

    The trick for me is circling the cusp without actually falling in. I’d say you’re going to be okay, but you already are! love.

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    1. I hear you too, Itty. I know I will make it, but I never thought it would be this rough of a ride. Maybe my ideas of being an “individual” were nothing more than being trouble. I’ve always thought I was going in the right direction, which I still think I am, but right for one is not always the right way. Love you too, my friend.

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    1. Your reply makes me think and rethink, though, Andrea. I might not be able to right wrongs or make a dent, but if I can make my grandson smile and he can tell his kids stories about his granny, then I will have done something right. I just have to learn to hone my expectations.

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    1. I hope everyone follows Glorialana’s link to Elizabeth Gilbert’s blog on your inner crone. It makes me appreciate and love my inner crone even more. She will never let me give in. Thank you, Glorialana — you really ARE an angel

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  2. Hi, Claudia! In addition to your topic I have just read about Mega Cool Crones in Chernobyl, the most radioactive place on the Earth. Please allow me to send you the whole quote from Elizabeth Gilbert.

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  3. I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m full of introspection as well. Did I make the right choices? Would I change things if I could? Am I doing all I can to make this world a better place before I go, or at least a better place for those around me? I don’t have any answers–for you or for me–but know that you’re not alone in your thoughts.

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    1. Knowing that I’m not alone in my confusion/disappointment makes it all easier, Carrie. I know I’m a good person, a loving person. That does count for something. I guess I just never thought I’d want to be “retirement age” so that I can drop the rest behind and concentrate on what makes me feel good…kids, grandkids, all that. Thank you so much for sharing with me.

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  4. Another excellent piece. You always seem to write about something I can really relate to at the time. Hang in there. Don’t let anyone make you change, you’re great the way you are. I never saw that poem before, but it’s great!

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    1. Leanne, you are the best. I feel you in my thoughts, in my heart. And I know we wonder and feel the same things. And I know we are both strong women who will make it through the rough patches. For we are so much more than the sum of our experiences. Love you!

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  5. Dylan Thomas’ poem is my anthem!

    Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
    Because their words had forked no lightning they
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
    Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
    And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
    Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    And you, my father, there on that sad height,
    Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
    Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

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      1. I’m sorry my earlier post was so short. These past few days have been grey, and the next few will be as well. But that poem, that phrase, do not go gently into that good night, has run deep in me for a long time. So deep down inside I know I can roll with the punches, coming out stronger and feistier on the other side. THank you, ladyredspecs, for making me feel better.

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