We’re sitting at home watching Queer Eye on Netflix (full disclosure: I’m only sort of watching because I am doing on some online shopping with my eyes) and someone on the show mentions there’s a difference between existing and living as you get older. This caught my attention. It is easy as you age to fall into habits and get into patterns that don’t leave much room for new experiences and personal growth. After all, you’ve been around 5, 6, 7 decades and you’ve got a history. People hold you accountable to that history. You’ve been defined, and being thus defined you settle into place like gum stuck under a table. You are stuck, and you exist in the well-worn grooves.
I’m going to be 54 in May. My husband and I will celebrate 27 years in August, and later that month our youngest will begin college. This is when the gum can get stuck to the wall. I know a lot of people my age and older (and even younger) who are stuck. There is nothing new in their lives. There is no freshness, no growth. They are existing.
I don’t want that for my life, but I know that since March 2020 that is what I have been doing. I have been simply existing. I’ve been lazy about self-care and home care. I have been going through the motions. And, yes. There has been a lot of change, stress, anxiety, and adjustment these past two years just trying to negotiate our Covid-19 world, and I have to give myself a little grace for that. But I am ready to move beyond this stagnation and start living again. I’m ready to carve out a place to care for myself and not self-soothe by checking out. I’m ready to accept myself where I am at and move forward and live again because time isn’t slowing down, Covid isn’t going away, and the longer I stay stuck the more difficult it will be to pry myself loose.
If you did a self check in right now, where are you? Are you living or are you existing?
I have been putting some real effort into living (at least part-time) for decades.
In the wake of my wife’s death, my pursuits have bloomed to fill the empty spaces.
I am aging, but refuse to slow down. I put a studio in the parlor and started recording my songs, and writing new ones. I bought a piano to begin learning to play it. I leave my easel out in the kitchen and constantly have a painting in progress. I’m writing (hit & miss lately) for five blogs, one of which is filled with my photography and music. I’m on the 12th chapter of my 3rd book in the Sasha series.
I hike with the dog and play with grandchildren and fish with my son and camp at the lake in July.
When I have time on my hands, I can hardly choose which pursuit to pursue, and can’t even count the ones I’ve dropped because I’m too busy!
Once you’ve mastered the drums, grab a ukulele.
Next year you could be playing Mele Kalikimaka on that Hawaiian beach!
It sounds like you are living every single day, Paz. I am glad you are because I know sometimes the loss of a spouse sends people to a different place. You are (and have been for a while to me) a magnificent example of how to live. Thanks for lighting the path for me.
And I’m not sure about the ukelele, but it’s definitely something to consider.