Monday, October 20, 2008

Great Expectations?

I wonder if much of our societal dismay at getting older is linked to the unexpected...we think and dream of our lives as young adults (at least girls guys do that too?). We think about our courtships, our weddings, maybe our careers. We dream of our children. Sometimes we jokingly talk with our sweetheart about getting old together. When do we mull over those middle and latter years? Are we surprised by the disappointments of our later years because we don't take time to think of what is ahead?

Our society deifies youth to such an extent that most of us often don't give our older years any thought (realistic ones, anyway.). Other than deciding what percentage of our income to sock away in the 401K, we don't want to consider the possibilities of aging. I watched some of my friends that preceded me into the 40's lose their 'close-up-vision' and get glasses, but I really didn't think it would happen to me. It has. And I've been disappointed that my body betrayed me like this! I think I have 14 pair of reading glasses around here. (And I look good in them, too...)

David and I are on the brink of having our first kiddos leave the nest....and I've never given too much thought (until very recently) of what life will be like when they all fly away. I'm thinking I need to savor our children when they're here, but also, dream and plan and look forward to those years in a realistic light.

I think I've written before regarding the comment my friend, Norma, made when we were conversing some months ago about how time seems to escalate as we get older. She said that she thinks it's not so much time speeding up as it is that our ability to process is getting slower. That gave me pause! I was downhearted about that for a short time and then I thought: this getting old thingy is part of The Plan! Since Adam and Eve, EVERYONE has aged. If it is part of The Great Design, then who am I to dread or question it?

(Okay, for all you Moral Government devotees, I acknowledge that it may not have been part of the original Eden Plan, but when A. & E. chowed on the fruit, aging became part of the deal...hmmmm...maybe aging is hard because the Original Intent/Purpose was for us to live obediently and stay young eternally???? Not to stir up a huge theological debate about the Government of God, but I just had to include those thoughts.)

Reminds me of my birthday...I LOVE my birthday
(321 shopping days left after today, people!!)
and I attempt to enjoy it as much as I can. I have never, until recently, had a clue why people did not milk their birthdays for all the fun, fellowship, cake, cash & prizes they could. Now that I am feeling my age a bit more, I'm seeing how many dread that yearly confirmation of "maturity".

I shocked a checker in a store recently by asking at what age they granted a senior discount (some stores around here give it as early as age 52.). (I'm 46.) The lady asked me why I'd want to know! I told her that if I am going to get old, I might as well look forward to the perks there are in aging!

Until the lately, I have thought of myself as looking MUCH younger than I actually am. In my twenties I hated my youthful appearance with a passion (talk about youth being wasted on the young!). I wanted to look like a mature woman, and I resented people looking upon me like a kid. Seems like I got carded FOREVER...into my 30's. If I got carded now, I'd probably kiss the cashier. I used to be quite critical of people 'getting work done' (botox & plastic surgery and such). I am still philosphically opposed to that kind of thing, but man, as I look in the mirror these days, I can sure see the rationale!!!

I wonder if part of the problem with us not knowing what to realistically expect when we age is that we don't choose to hang out with older people enough. Back in the Little House on the Prairie days, families often lived multi-generationally under one roof. Everyone experienced by first-hand-observation the whole 'circle of life', day-to-day...the joys, the pains.

Am I growing older? Of course. What might that include? Aches and pains? Will I be able to tell the weather forecast by how my joints are feeling? Will I have illness? Will I be less ambulatory? Will I lose brain power? Will I lose my independence through no longer being able to drive someday? Will I be alone? Amidst the losses (adjusting reading glasses...), I hope that I'll allow myself to grieve the things I lose and I hope that I will take the grace given me to be thankful for my wonderful youth and for my (God-willing) fabulous golden years! (And I hope I won't make my bodily functions the main topic of conversation....oh, I already do that?)


julie martin said...

i love your wonderful philosophical musings on aging, ferbamortal! alan and i are beginning to have these same kinds of conversations, as we reach for our reading glasses and grab our lower backs as we roll out of bed. nice to know we're not in it alone!

Brian said...

What are you buying that you'd get carded for, ehhhhhh?? :-รพ