My mom used to say, “I don’t mind getting old. It sure beats the alternative.”
I think about the wisdom of that a lot. But here I sit on my birthday, all aglow with dozens upon dozens of well-wishing birthday summations, and something just occurred to me. I’m not sure if I fully qualify as being old, though I am old enough for Medicare as of yesterday, but I really do not mind at all getting older.
Twenty years ago, when I was a mere 45, I pasted a piece of paper into my scrapbook with a quote I’d copied from educational reformer and social activist Dorothy Canfield Fisher.
“One of the many things nobody ever tells you about middle age is that it’s such a nice change from being young.”
I believed that then. Now I believe – and this may be a Candace Cooksey Fulton original – is one of the many things nobody ever tells you about aging out of middle age is that the older, more secure, take what comes and deal with it as you choose lifestyle is a very nice change from just about any other life stage.
Would older have been my first choice? I don’t know. Given a choice, I think I’d choose wiser. But the two seem to go hand-in-hand. Or don’t you agree?
So, approaching this monumental birthday, I’ve been thinking about what I like and know now, as opposed to what I liked and knew then. Some things haven’t changed.
I’ve always liked small coincidences, good stories, a balance between life adventure and the comforts of home. I probably was middle age before I learned the joy of treasuring the moment instead of rushing to find another that might be just as good.
I’ve learned that the bend in the road isn’t the end of the road. That there’s no shame in deciding to put down a burden, and, as often as not, there’s no great prize for deciding to carry someone else’s either. These things have to be decided on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes we pick up because we can. Sometimes we put down because we have to.
There’s no way to do it all, or just do part of it. One day at a time is about as fast a pace as I’m able to take things. I was 19 years old when my high school friend and college roommate Barbara Brown Wales shared with me a Bible verse that had given her hope and calm – Psalm 30: 5 – and all these years, I’d remembered it. I’m sure the version Barbara shared was from the Revised Standard edition, I recently found the Aramaic version I prefer.
“Because rebuke is in His anger, and life is in His pleasure; at evening, weeping will spend the night, and in the morning – joy!”
My own “in plain English” version has always been, whatever pain there is this night, we will get through it. There comes a joy in the morning.
To borrow from Kermit the Frog, “It’s not easy being green.”
These days just about any color, creed, decision or belief system comes with its own set of challenges. But I’ve found – again in my old age – that it’s OK to hear my own drum beat. What I want to be aware of are things that are good, helpful, kind, caring.
I don’t want the drama. I want the do. Don’t yell at me, or call me names. And I will be just as respectful to you. I still think we all pretty much want the same things, we just aren’t sure how to get those things distributed.
I am a huge believer that life is a process, not really so much about the destination as the willingness to keep going and growing. I see my own life station as proof that blessed is the life that enjoys the journey.
To quote Sophia Loren, “There is a fountain of youth: It is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”
As for me, I will continue to pray for patience and in my patience follow the proverbial advice to, “Fear less. Hope more. Eat less. Chew more. Sigh less. Breathe more. Hate less. Love more,” so that all good things are mine to share.
I will hope for all good things for all of us, and, of course, time to enjoy them.
Candace Cooksey Fulton, formerly of Brownwood, is a freelance writer now living in San Angelo. She writes weekly columns for the Brownwood Bulletin and the San Angelo Standard-Times, each unique to the particular paper. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.