This 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.