Aging is a tricky thing. Not only does it mess with the body, it also messes with the mind. And often those two things are at cross-purposes. I realize I’m not the first person to come up with this notion, but it is happening to me, for the first time.
In my Jewish tradition, it’s customary to bless people on their birthday, “May you live to 120.” According to the Bible, that was the age God determined for the human lifespan. It’s also presumed to be the age of Moses at his death. In any case, the number comes up frequently and based on that, I’m right smack in the middle of my life. God willing, it will be.
There are many people who don’t wish for more time, at least not out loud. Some folks surrender to the unknown and make the most of each day. Some people are more fatalistic figure everything is fleeting, so why bother. But here’s the thing: it’s the not knowing that is both a blessing and a curse. It’s also a litmus test for one’s basic nature. Optimist or pessimist? It’s long been established that I am an optimist. But the issue for me is, what do I do with whatever time I have left? And, is there ever really enough time?
For me, each day feels like a crossroad. The world is an infinite place filled with possibilities. Which road do I travel today? What about tomorrow, or next month, or next year? Oy, I’m also neurotic, I know. But I simply do not want to waste any time. Being in the middle of my life seems great! I get plenty of years to use the lessons I’ve learned to make meaningful contributions. But here’s the tricky part: I feel old and young at the same time. Some days I wake up stiff or sore in places I hadn’t felt before, but always, always, my mind is awake, alert, ready to get on with it. Other days my body feels great, but my spirit feels worn out, used up. I am both aware of the time behind me and the great unknown ahead of me. Have I done enough with my life? Should I slow it down? Speed it up? Sometimes I’m excited and exhilarated and other days I’m scared. My mom would call it, “the human condition,” meaning it’s all part of being human. I find that comforting because it means I’m not alone with these feelings.
So why, today, am I thinking about all this? I find myself, once again, feeling in transition. Summer is nearly here, another birthday is on the horizon, my husband and I will celebrate a milestone anniversary, our youngest son will come to live with us while he attends grad school and later in the year, some business decisions to be made. I often wish I was someone who didn’t look so far down the road. That I could live more in the present and not “pre-worry,” about things yet to come. But on the other hand, I like to be prepared, or at least think I’m prepared. I like to think I have some control, even though I know there are some things over which we have so little of that.
When I was younger I just felt I had so much time to get things right in my life and now I feel the urgency of the unknown time ahead. Yes, living to 120 seems like it would be a real blessing for someone like me, but really, who knows? After all, I’m still “middle-aged,” feel great, have good health, good relationships, a good life. My life experience tells me that could all change very quickly, but my young self tells me to push on, go for my dreams, make my mark. See? Tricky stuff, right?
What seems tricky to you? Do you feel old, young or both?