After a tough 9 months here I am again, musing away, looking at another transition through the lens of many changes… a release from the co-vid lockdown lifestyle, new management at my senior residence trying to appreciate us (and not knowing how), dementia surfacing in a very close friend, the increasing vulnerability of our democracy, discomfort with my own slowing pace, and several small stumbles. Part of life I as I knew it is ending. I feel an opening to I know not what.
The co-vid lockdown has led to some nourishing reflection and writing since March of 2020. As mentioned in an earlier post, my basic 133-page document, Who was Aunt Martha, Anyway? was completed for the Johnson family archives in 2020. Just this week I completed a video highlighting the 20-year span of one part of my life…My Glory Years.
For those particular 20 years I LOVED discovering and practicing the career and and creating the business that gave me such joy…coaching and consulting, helping others get the results in life that they yearned for. The resulting video shares some speech clips from 40 years ago which would have otherwise ended up in the trash. The videographer who assisted me in this project commented: “You know this video should be an assignment for everyone…I wish my father and my grandfather had done something similar!”
Although those 20 years ended in illness, they were the source, 10 years later, of a book, Why Not Do What You Love? (2010 & revised 2017). Yes, I did what I loved, and am still doing it!
Currently residing in my noodling brain is a final volume of personal history for the archives and beyond. Now 82, I’d like to finish off my life story with the years from 60 – 84 as I “encountered illness and aging without a map.”
At the turn of the century in 2000, the uncertainty of how to deal with an unwelcome destablizing realization was just beginning to be felt: “Whoops! I just realized that I’m going to live 30 more years. Whatever happened to retirement?” The early members of the boomer age wave were approaching their “unanticipated gift of longevity” at 55. We Silents already had had to figure something out if we were going to refuse to surrender to being “old, and invisible and useless” in the eyes of society. Fortunately 20 years later, longevity is no longer un-anticipated. The early Boomers have arrived at 75. Planning is essential and the maps for a productive and purposeful life are beginning to proliferate.
The questions of my earlier years still guide me…What can I contribute with the time that remains to me? And how do I keep on keeping on with the tasks to fulfill my mother’s legacy to not leave a mess to my survivors?
And there are new questions. As a woman with no children whose siblings are scattered, I notice that my friend suffering cognitive decline, has offered me one version of life’s ending, and, provoked a new query. “Who will take care of me?”
Another totally new awareness is that of a desire for younger people in my life. This came as a surprise, inviting the question: How can I be more inter-generationally involved? That inquiry is generating some experiments and exploration.
And so life goes on.
In my life, at whatever age, new questions, new conversations and new experiments don’t stop. I hope for you the same.
May you have peace with whatever is ending for you during these crazy times. May you find the transitionary courage for whatever openings you choose to sense, feel and explore for yourself.