Saturday, November 24, 2012
Contemplating Age and Change
Outside a small layer of snow covers the ground. The leaves of fall have given way to the monochrome sameness of winter. A sort of quiet has descended, replacing the daily thunder of leaf blowers and lawn mowers.
In many ways it's all a metaphor for my own life as well. Age 65 marks the true beginning of old age. Please do not misunderstand. I embrace my age as an old friend. I've lots of scars and entire pieces of the heart missing to show for having survived until this leg of the journey of a lifetime. Nothing I know could ever make me want to return to the uncertain mercurial days of my youth. Along the way, keys to open the doors of love, compassion, understanding were placed in my hands despite my best efforts to embrace the comforting arms of stupidity. These are gifts that can only come with age and experience. For them I'm grateful.
Yet there are issues appearing in my life that bring me no small amount of concern. They are not matters of depression, though sometimes for a short time I'll embrace depression to feel them more fully. More so however, I think I'm searching for new keys to find my way through uncharted territory. A new uncertainty if you please to replace the old. It means change however. Change is never easy, even if a constant companion.
Let me explain. Some critical things have changed for me. I've always been able to express myself. Best of course in writing, and that has not changed one iota. But also in small groups or among friends. In my work years, I often was asked to lead special communities. That is because I did it very well. I could encourage lots of input, and coordinate with the group to come up with a mutual decision, the key to making a committee work in my opinion. I could state what it was I needed to say, and people understood. In talking with friends, I could state ideas with all ramifications clearly.
Here something has changed and I'm not completely sure why. Recently I've sat in on two different groups. When I'd go to state my opinion, I'd begin, but leave out entire thoughts essential to understanding what I was trying to say. The message was jumbled and incomplete,and it showed in the eyes of the listeners too polite to say anything.
Other changes have come as well. I used to be a social butterfly of sorts. Now I rarely get out. Some of this is health, some transportation, some a total lack of those really intimate friendships, people I could call up any time or we would go out and have a glass of soda over conversation. Oh I still have some of those conversations from old friends back in Houston, either on phone or the internet, but those are poor second choices over face to face time. My sweetie is here of course, but she is not a big conversationalist, more akin to a contemplative sort. I say this not as criticism for her for it is her nature and I fell in love for her as EXACTLY the person she is. Rather I say it as one more example of a growing isolation that is coming with age.
Then there is the loss that never goes away. A daughter I've not heard from in years. A grandson I've never seen. A family who does not welcome me home. It is what it is, but that does not take away the hurt any. At holidays, once vibrant gatherings of a huge family is replaced with moments shared only by Robin and myself. Shunning is a cruel process, and I would pray no other person ever have to endure this.
So how do I change this dynamic? I feel my own self confidence slipping and that only hinders whatever I do. I'm forcing myself out the doors, if only to get on the bus and go somewhere, or make a meeting or whatever. I can't force the kind of intimacy I mentioned in friendships earlier, but I can be available if it should happen. I've not worked it all out yet. But it is clear change is needed, and all I need to do is figure out how it will take form. If my verbal communications are slipping, at least my written ones still seem to be effective. Now begins my search for answers. I still live with hope, but I pray honestly so. It's not my nature to stick my head in a hole and pretend all is well. I can count my blessings and lick my wounds at the same time. Alone or in company, this is my one life. I plan to keep it full for whatever time I have left on this planet. It is after all an amazing, spectacular, but also bitter sweet gift. Now to seek my solutions. Blessings be.