The Other I

May 5, 2013

When less is more

Filed under: Growing Old — theotheri @ 8:47 pm
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When I was a young faculty member, I remember a faculty member who kept agitating for our department to teach a course in geriatrics.  How boring, I thought.  Who wants a course about old age when all the exciting things in life are finished.

Oh my my my.  How wrong I was.

Getting old is one of the most fascinating, unexpected, and often enjoyable experiences of my life.

Yes, neither my husband or I are suffering from some of the diseases that typically appear among the retired that can cause so much pain and distress.  And although we’re not rich, we are not poor and we don’t have to choose between eating and heating, which is my short-hand definition of poverty.

And many of the challenges of one’s younger years are already faced as well.  I don’t worry much anymore if people like me, if I’ve attractive enough, if my chosen career has any intrinsic value.

But getting old is also rewarding in itself.  Just having a life to live somehow seems more wonderful, more amazing.  And terribly surprising.  I find all sorts of things I never appreciated before are now quite beautiful.

I have less energy than I used to though, and I have developed a strategy that I find is essential if I’m not going to drive myself absolutely mad.  I get a great deal more satisfaction if I set goals for myself that are realistic in terms of what I can reasonably accomplish today – not what I could do even five years ago.

Less really is more.  I go to bed at night feeling much happier if I have accomplished my more modest achievements for the day than if I go over an impossibly long list of things I said I was going to do and didn’t.

All of which is a rather long explanation about why I’m not blogging every day anymore.

I do hope it’s included in the times when less is more.

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4 Comments »

  1. so difficult to do for type a personalities, but as my mother so often said:
    be gentle with yourself
    take in your own beauty
    embrace life – it will ennoble you

    Like

    Comment by kateritek — May 5, 2013 @ 9:03 pm | Reply

    • I think your mother must have been one in a million. Her advice sounds so lovely – until you try to put it into practice, when one discovers that it’s not easy at all!

      Like

      Comment by Terry Sissons — May 6, 2013 @ 4:28 pm | Reply

  2. Yes to all of that! I had a writers’ residency at Centrum a long time ago when an Elder Hostel seminar on Jung also happened to be there. They said I could listen in, and as part of their final meeting I was initiated as an honorary elder (part of the Jungian thing was that rituals are important, and lacking in this culture). It seemed a little bit silly–there was a drum and whatnot, and everyone stood up one by one and spoke their names out loud solemnly–but even so, I kept the rock that I took from the bowl of water that had been held by an elder, and blessed. And more importantly, I kept this idea from the Jungian guy who was leading the seminar: “The role of elders,” he said, “is to give blessings. To be the one person at the dinner table who turns to a child and tells her, for no reason at all, how beautiful she is.” When he said that, I began to look forward to getting old.

    You’re right about the important luxuries of health and financial stability; it’s a whole lot easier to notice the beautiful when you aren’t chained to the oars. On the other hand, I know that some people in literal chains have managed to not only notice, but to create incredible beauty of spirit in this world. I think we help each other to remember that’s possible every time we slow down–which may be as simple as remembering to breathe once in a while–lower expectations, and pay attention to what we love instead of what we fear.

    Thanks for reminding me of that again today. (I slowed down long enough to open your post in my inbox–though I’ve been ruthlessly deleting everything that’s not work-related and marked “urgent” for months–and I’m glad I did.)

    Like

    Comment by Barbara Sullivan — May 6, 2013 @ 12:37 am | Reply

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to describe your wonderful Jungian initiation. It’s so insightful, isn’t it? It seems to me that understanding the value of being an elder belongs with thaose aspects of life that can only accessed through poetry, through symbols. Age is unfortunately one of the archetypes that so much of modern life simply denigrates with its exclusive emphasis on the value of youth. Yes, being young is beautiful. But so is being old.

      Again thank you. Especially since I was saved from an early exit into the Trash Box!

      Like

      Comment by Terry Sissons — May 6, 2013 @ 4:25 pm | Reply


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