Recently, I crash-landed when I took an honest look at my age and my writing future. I thought, “Who wants to read stuff written by a plumpy, gray-haired grandmother who collects her Social Security?”
This crash landing injured my ego and my reality check. Accepting that this is the second half of my life without an escape gate from this half’s end, threw bolts into my working engine and downed my metaphorical airplane.
Irrelevant. Arthritic bones. Medicare. Comfortable shoes. Loose-fitting clothes. A safe car. Reading obituaries. A 50-year high school reunion. Constant dental visits. Talks to cat. People Magazine: “Who are these people?”
Maybe I should lift my eyes? Liposuction? Color hair? Wear leather? Buy an iWatch?
How about I just open up box a caramel popcorn, a bottle of red wine with a plate of cheese and salami, and watch TCM until I blow up?
Or, since landing follows the word crash, how about I pick up my busted self-esteem and fix it?
Just in case my final gate is further away than what insurance statistics lead me to believe, I picked up a copy of Angeles Arrien’s “The Second Half of Life” and read through it this week. It returned my injured self to the hanger for repair, reinstalling the reasons why crash landing over age is silly.
Like the venerable DC-3, old but still in use today for its practical reliability and versatility, I’m back in the air.
In fact, this old bird has a wing up on the generations behind me. Life has given me so much experience that I couldn’t even begin to fill my flight cabin with everything I’ve learned.
Instead of tilting when I feel invisible to the new generation in charge, I now understand invisibility is a gift — and something I dreamed about as a child. This gives me more air to breathe and expand upon what I already know. This gives me the gateway to becoming an elder, a source of wisdom.
That doesn’t mean that my ego has swollen. Puffed-up egos smother wisdom before wisdom can bud. Arrien explains, “In the second half of life … is the gate of divestiture, where our values and identities shift from doing to being: from preparing to harvesting; from acquisition to legacy-leaving; from ambition to meaning: and from ‘I’ to ‘we.’”
While my slumber’s dreams still portray my younger self, I don’t know that by making a conscious rejection of my aging process and trying to fool myself and others with surgical adjustments, as opposed to character development and exploring what is meaningful, will bring me back to that lithe, dark-haired and bouncy person of my youth. And do I really want to live through all of that again? No. Absolutely not.
I like the poet, May Satron’s reply to a question she received during a reading from her journal, “At Seventy.” “This is the best time of my life — I love being old.” Then she was asked, “Why is it good to be old?” Satron replied, “Because I am more myself than I have ever been. There is less conflict. I am happier, more balanced … and more powerful …”
For the now, I’m harvesting my experiences and knowledge. I’m loading my cargo hold with the wisdom from life-learned. It’s my mission as a writer, a communicator, and as an elder-in-training to share what I understand.
When I fly through this life’s final gate, I want to know that I made a positive difference. It matters not if that difference impacted one person or a thousand persons. But if what I know and communicate the simple truths that enhance the greater good, then, mission accomplished.