Return of the Frenetic Life

Even in isolation, it feels like this.

It didn’t take long for the relaxation of the cruise to wear off.  We arrived home on Saturday afternoon, tired and footsore after a long day.  In accordance with our plan, we raced off to the grocery before exhaustion could set in and prepared to hunker down for several days to avoid conveying any errant viruses to our friends. 

Even without any physical contact, it took only a few days to realize how frenetic life in this senior community really is.  The pervasive mantra of “Be engaged” and “give back to the community” has generated wonderful, engaging, can’t say “no” projects.  Indeed, many of us measure our meaning in life by how useful we are to our communities—very much as we all did during our entire adulthood.  Free time had little priority while living up to our potential to engage with the world and its infinite needs. 

But wait, when do we reach the stage of life when we toss off those dragon scales of Social Expectation (a la Joseph Campbell)? When is there time for meditating or reflecting on life and connections, essential to creativity and spirituality and enlightenment (per Buddha, Jung, Richard Rohr and so many more).  Are we, as senior citizens denying aging by staying busy, and carrying our adult expectations into old age?  

Uncharted Waters

Uncharted waters,

Living life while letting go,

Now is all there is.

There’s always been a do-list on my desk, carefully dated and delineated in a spiral notebook. Some days, there have been 20 or more new entries. Periodically, I joyously strike a line through each accomplished task.

These days, there are fewer items on the do-list: backup the computer, make a physician appointment. Currently, a new spiral notebook is filling with phrases to ponder and meditations to remember… a new list for my future quiet moments.

Searching for the written ideas of others about aging, I find numerous books with eat-this, do-that advice, such as Rebellious Aging. These seem directed to the 50-year olds and 60-year olds struggling against aging. Of more interest to me are the more metaphysical, psychoanalytic writings of Kathleen Singh Downing and Helen Lukes. My current favorite is Wise Aging: Living with Joy, Resilience, and Spirit by Rabbi Rachel Cowan and Dr. Linda Thal. These authors see aging as a life cycle, a time of reflection, a transformation from do-lists to reflections, which is where I seem to be, while living life with joy.

These posts will thus be a mixture of life as I am living it and reflections on aging. I suspect that the ratio of “activities” to “reflections will change over time. Let’s see.