According to AARP, I’ve been a senior citizen for eleven years. If you look at my family tree, however, you’d probably consider giving me nine more years or more before attaching “old” or “elderly” to my list of traits.
Age is subjective. You need something to compare your discovery with in order the determine the evolution of it, whether it be alive and inanimate. Albeit, society has its norms on this subject so I must concede that I am of an older age. Note that I state “an older age”, instead of “old”. Considering the fact that people as a group live longer than they used to, my sixty-one years of existence may be considered middle-age — unless you go by the British definition of the term. (That brings other topics to mind, but I want to research before putting my thoughts out here on the internet.)
When I turned fifty (the youngest age of AARP members) I was still thinking about all the things I wanted to accomplish and was still making intentional plans to get that stuff done. I was coloring my hair a soft hazelnut brown and wearing makeup every single day, just as I had in my twenties. Undeterred by the fact that I hadn’t been able to find employment for over five years and was lacking self-confidence about the issue, I felt there must be someone out there who would hire me. I knew my problem wasn’t my age. I had another problem that had haunted me since I was eighteen, my disability. At midlife, I thought the physical challenge was still the one and only hurdle. The thought of being unemployable at the age of fifty still hits me as being ridiculous.
Moving from Michigan’s small town to Tennessee’s small town when I was fifty-four didn’t sway me into thinking I couldn’t get a job. There are a few cultural differences between the two states so I adjusted my expectations a little to allow for the fact that I’d be an outsider for a longer period of time. (Mind you, I’m not finding fault with this difference. It’s just a distinction between the areas of the country.) I, still, couldn’t perceive myself to be older. My opinion was this: age was a chronological way of keeping track, and nothing more. As the months rolled by, my hopes of having a job dwindled to the point where I knew it wasn’t going to happen no matter what I did. I became the proverbial housewife, washing, cleaning, cooking, reading, and watching a couple of daytime programs on TV. Tedious doesn’t even come close to how I felt about my days.
Three years ago I stopped coloring my hair and only put makeup on when going someplace in an attempt to get use to the fact that I was getting older, that the time of grandioso dreams turning into reality were gone. At first, I thought I was getting the hang of becoming a person of advancing age. Only I wasn’t, not really. I was going through a transition of sorts. Imperceivable changes in my mental and emotional assessments of all sorts of things in life were shifting. Many of the things I thought to be so important have switched to the other side of the pendulum, and of course, other aspects of life have swung the other way.
Subjects of the world at large don’t have the same urgency in my life now. I’m more likely to get caught up is the small insistence that can send my mind on journeys of abstraction. This isn’t to assert that world issues aren’t important, but I realize, now, my capabilities as an individual aren’t going to put a scratch on any of these concerns. This, by no chance, means I’ve hidden myself away, although many of my activities now are singular in nature. I’m, still, highly opinionated, but have learned to keeps these reactions under restraint. The impression I let loose, I try my best to do with prudence.
There are many things I don’t like about myself, but ninety percent are things I can’t do anything about. I’ve come to a place in my life where I believe I’m being sensible about what I should take the time to examine and maybe change in me and what to leave alone and accept.
Is this a wisdom seeping into me or have I become disillusioned?
What are your views on the subject of age?
He that has seen both sides of fifty has lived to little purpose if he has no other views of the world than he had when he was much younger. – William Cowper