Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Taking Stock



Recently, Dick posted about the changes aging brings. He began with a quote by Doris Lessing who said one of the great secrets of the elderly is that though their bodies have changed, what is essentially "them" has not. That made me think about all that's changed about me since I was small, and all that hasn't.


I'M STILL

...a hermit by nature, content with my own company, happily needing hours of alone time.

...moved by music (except for the discordant or screechy stuff), poetry (especially if Collins or Oliver, Roethke or Sutphen, Frost or Rumi or Basho has written it), and works of art that capture some part of the natural world.

...in love with wind and rain, puddles and rainbows, dawn light and evening shadows, grassy meadows and deep forests. And I'm still happier out of doors than in, though my little cottage is delightfully cozy.

...carrying on a love affair with food, as well, though now I am careful that my diet includes less sugar and other refined foods.

...writing every day, though I no longer publish weekly in the newspaper. I self-published a book in 1999 and did contribute nearly half the articles for a coffee table book about libraries that was published in 2007.

...delighted by children (especially my own, even though all four of them are well into adulthood), animals, snowstorms, travel. My greatest happinesses still come from family, from old friends and new, from moments when I know I am an integral part of something much larger than myself.

I'M NO LONGER

...so nervous about trying new things, or at least I can talk myself around my anxiety with greater success. Having learned to drive in a one-horse town, I was afraid to drive in traffic and terrified of getting lost. But in the last forty years or so, I've driven any number of cars (both automatic and stick shift), a fifteen passenger van, a farm tractor, a pickup, a dump truck, and a golf cart, and understood that rather than being lost, I was simply taking the long way home. I've traveled overseas to a country whose language I did not understand, and applied for at least two jobs where I bluffed about my experience, then ended up teaching the the very skills I'd needed.

...thin and sleek and svelte. I'm more rounded in body as well as in expertise but I'm working at reversing the pudding-bag-tied-in-the-middle look.

...impatient. Being a mother, a teacher, and a writer has taught me patience and the rewards of taking my time, reworking problems, and slowing down in order to enjoy whatever process I'm going through.

...a moody teenager, a frustrated young adult, or an anxious single mother. I've learned to pay attention to what's around me, to my feelings, to my thoughts. I have become aware of being the creator of my own life, believing there is no greater privilege or freedom.

...in doubt about my present abilities or so defensive about what I haven't mastered yet. Each day is both challenging and delightful, the two so often intertwined that I can't experience one without the other. It's a joy to wake up in the morning, and a blessing to sleep at night (and sometimes a genuine pain to be in the middle).

16 comments:

patteran said...

Wow, Pauline, that was quick - I've only just posted it!

Well, you've managed to identify and communicate so well those things that you've brought with you and those things that now lie beside the trail behind. It's an exercise that I've started a number of times but never managed to finish. Hopefully your coherence will help me to focus. Thanks for this.

Barbara said...

I'd say you've moved in a very positive direction. Getting older is indeed a mixed blessing!

Paul said...

Nice sketch and sounds good.

But I bet you wish you could write Haiku as well as me. That will perhaps prove your highest hurtle...

Deedee said...

Ah yes, getting older has many advantages. We may not be as firm and cute, but we have other more important traits now! Great post!

Pauline said...

Dick - I read your post before breakfast. It made me think!

Barbara - it is indeed

Paul - for a guy who's just asked me to marry him, you're a bit cheeky.

Words trembling like leaves
jump the hurdle of man's doubt
windblown to the page

Thanks DeeDee - no way I know of to avoid old age so we may as well enjoy it.

meggie said...

I can so relate to all you write, though I have not been a single parent. Being any kind of parent is difficult.
sleep does not come easy, & it is hard, not to self medicate to achieve sleep.
On the whole, I do love being older, & feeling more 'at home' in my skin.

Paul said...

Well, you didn't say yes...

"Leaves trembling like words
trump the turtles of man's doubt;
windblown is the sage."

See...? I mean, now that's perspicacious haiku, as well as sagacious - I won't say salacious, since it's not that.

Because sages most typically are windblown, spending lots of time outdoors...

Pauline said...

glad you said windblown and not windbag, Paul ;)

firebird said...

Pauline--you sound like a wonderful person--constantly surrounded by people as you seem to be-- when do you get those "hours of solitude"?

(Sorry, I don't think you qualify as a hermit!)

By the way, your haiku is excellent, I'm quite impressed!

Pauline said...

hi firebird - thanks for stopping by. I live alone so the only time I'm surrounded by people are my working hours. Late afternoons and evenings, weekends, and days off other than holidays are mine alone :) I can happily spend an entire vacation week in my own company and often do. And when I retire? The months of solitude stretch out enticingly. I'd be a hermit if I could.

Flea said...

That's awesome, you know yourself really well, I wonder if I would've been able to write all that :-)
Mmmmm, do I smell pancakes!

herhimnbryn said...

Hallo You!
A grand post P and I do like your final self portrait.

Pauline said...

Give it a whirl, Flea...

Hallo HHB! Thanks - it's the "new old" me lol

Ruth D~ said...

Please share your solution for the pudding bag thing. Sigh.

Sounds like we are a lot alike . . .

Mother of Invention said...

Just checking in on an "old" blogging friend and it is reassuring to see that you are as inspiring as ever. I love how you appreciate so many of the little things in life and how they can sustain you without yearning for more complex things to satisfy. I am without doubt that you love your alone time and will love retirement! (When is that? My official retirement date from teaching is Nov. 1/09!)

Pauline said...

Hello MOI! Good to hear from you :)

Retirement is three years in the offing though I am beginning to wish it was tomorrow. I am SO looking forward to it. There are so many things I want to do, chief of which is to throw away the alarm clock and stop rushing about.