Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The 22,630th Day Of The Rest Of Our Lives

I'm a pre-baby boomer. Being a true son of Scotland, my father made sure to procreate before he went away to war thus ensuring his posterity. The result is, having arrived and moved on past the golden age of 62 to the even better age of 66 come the 18th of next month, I have seen the future of the many who will shortly follow. I won't dwell on the general decline of the physical plant because for my age I'm in pretty good health. Oh yeah, there's the blood pressure thing (if I quit the cigs it would drop but that's my vice, no lectures please) and an ache that affects my left knee when I sit in the wrong position too long but that's about it. I don't run much any more ever since I did the old mans shuffle for ten miles around Lake Montebello on my fifty fifth birthday. It was the inability to really run that took the fun out of the endeavor. Wind in the hair and all that.

Anyway, I digress. The days of, after quitting an active work life, reposing in the Lazyboy and waiting for the inevitable and often too soon coming of that dark night are beyond our ken. Now when the social security check becomes a reality it usually comes accompanied by a "gut check." It's finally time to decide what to do when one grows up. All of life before this has been a preparation for the now. We are living longer and just how much time can one spend puttering around the house getting on our spouses nerves? We are the sum of our experiences and now we have the time to discover what we have become. It is not just being alive but to actually experience being alive without the constraints of trying to forge out a career. It's Saturday morning and school is out for a long, long vacation.

So here we are and we are what we are, nothing more and certainly nothing less. There are several philosophical ideas kicking around which should never become a part of this process. One is that at a certain age there is a sudden life altering change. Change is a wonderful thing and in this context it should never be life altering. Let's leave that for unexpected disasters. Aging is certainly expected and if the unexpected happens, well yeah, that's life altering.

Another thought is that throughout our lives we take on several roles which, like tired actors, we trot out when the occasion demands. The children leave and the job goes to that new kid out of college who doesn't know his ass from his elbow. Suddenly there is no role to play. The script has not only been flipped, it's been purloined!

It's time to "reinvent" ones self! How does someone "reinvent" themselves? Is that what they mean when a knee or hip is replaced? Reinvent implies invention. By who and why? Methinks that term comes from the "man the machine" train of thought. We are the sum of our parts, a liver here, a kidney there and oh yes, that brain thing which makes all the computers ever "invented" look like the toys we once played with as children. We are much more than that. It's like when the student asked the Zen master about the nature of life and the master held up a single flower. It just is. How do you reinvent a flower?

The days go on and we go on, granted a little slower than forty when life began. It's just another day or year only now we have the freedom to really live. Ladies can wear red hats and dress in purple. Men can spent more time on the golf course. We can take that college course in geology or basketweaving or skish or whatever we set our minds to with no thought of ever putting it to "practical" use. Sure, some of us have to continue to work but the pressure is off. No more climbing the corporate ladder if one chooses to have their feet planted on solid soil.

I think the thing to do is relax in that soft cushion of the life we've created. It may be a little lumpy and kind of worn but it's there and it's dependable. It is the shape of us and to try to reform that shape is folly.


Blogger Kasia said...

What a great beautiful wise post! I've read it twice and I think I will print it and keep it till I am 70.
My cushion has no shape yet, but I can't wait to see it. Though I know its colour. Green. The colour of hope. :)

5:04 AM  
Blogger Ally Bean said...

This is such a sensible take on aging. I agree with you that reinventing onesself seems kind of silly. Accepting who you are and enjoying it seems wiser to me.

What is, is.

5:36 AM  
Blogger Sean said...

I dislike that term, reinvention. To me, life is a long walk, and some of us take longer walks than others. If you're on a well beaten path and the environment around you fills you with contentment, then that's a good thing. Why change? If you find a four way intersection, you can keep moving forward as you have been, or you can make a sharp turn and see where the path takes you. I don't think that's reinventing ones self, it's just setting a different course, and sometimes people do that for the wrong reasons.

My father in-law is 67 years old, and owns a 1,000 acre farm in Vermont. He works 60+ hours a week, probably a 50/50 split between the office and working on major farm projects. He doesn't seem to be slowing down. He just takes longer naps :) His plan is to work full-time until he's 70, but even then, I don't see him stopping. It seems everyone around him wants him to reinvent himself but he seems to be happy the way he is ;)

12:11 PM  
Anonymous Mrs Lifecruiser said...

Oh, I think we may have been on that soft cushion now for a couple of year, but it's not easy, they have tried to throw us down from it several times!

Or maybe we roll down from it after the beers we had tonight ;-)

CHEERS to the weekend!!!

7:10 PM  
Blogger The MacBean Gene said...

Thank you for the wonderful comment, Kasia. I have a feeling you will be extremely comfortable at 70. And I hope to be around at 110 to wish you happy 70th.

You know Ally, I really don't feel old. Sometimes it comes as a shock to realize I've accumulated all these years.

The term "reinvention" is what started me thinking about this post, Sean. We all have those choices to make in life. Until I was diagnosed with ADD I was quite adept at making the wrong ones not knowing why.
Your father-in-law sounds like he has it figured out. It's keeping active that keeps us going. And being happy with ones self brings great joy.

Well, Lifecruisers, as active as you are your tossings and turnings are not unexpected. However I suspect you are quite comfortable where you are even if you do have to get up occasionally for more beer. Now that you mention beer, I'll be right back.

9:24 PM  
Blogger Alexander said...

Nice post. Where you are in your perception of life, is exactly '30' years away from me at the moment. Who knows if I'll ever get there?

3:45 PM  
Blogger Floridacracker said...

Well said. Very straightforward and grounded.

5:39 PM  
Blogger The MacBean Gene said...

Thanks for the comment, Alexander. I have a feeling the next 30 years will go by and you will arrive at 66 wondering what happened to them.

Wow, I've arrived! A visit from the sage of N. Florida. Thanks for stopping by, FC. You know I enjoy the blog by a true son of the sunshine state.

8:30 PM  
Blogger Alexander said...

Sobering thought,Macbean. Already, psychological time 'appears' to be moving much faster than before, since turning 30. Although I feel I haven't wasted life opportunities to the extent of some people I know, I do often still hold back with life, and don't make the best of it as much as I 'could'. Mostly due to our old friend 'and' foe, "caution".

5:54 AM  

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