The subject of this month’s blog hop, sponsored by the fabulous folks over at GenFab, is “Aging Gracefully”. After much soul-searching and countless fruitless and inarticulate attempts, I give you my take on a subject that is near and dear to my heart. So, get to hoppin’, my friends — and read more about it!
Before I began this piece, I looked up the word graceful. It is defined by dictionary.com as [that which is] characterized by beauty of movement, style, form, etc., which is exactly what I was afraid it meant. I can’t think of a single thing that I do or the way in which I do it that could be described as graceful. I sincerely doubt that this tiger will suddenly change her stripes by uncharacteristically approaching aging with anything resembling grace. More likely, I’ll just stumble in, headlong, like Kramer entering Jerry’s apartment on Seinfeld.
I do not now, nor have I ever, moved beautifully. Truth be told, I kind of lumber, rather loudly, through life. I could never be a spy. Or a cat burglar. I can’t even sneak up on my own rather large fourteen-year-old tabby while he is sleeping! I know this begs the question, “Why ever would you want to do a thing like that?” It’s not about “want”, so much as it’s about “need”. In order to clean his ears, brush his teeth, or put him in the carrier for his annual veterinary examination, it is necessary that he be captured. Captured! It’s a process that requires careful planning and, well, grace.
Everyone knows that catching a cat off guard is the only proven method for ensnaring, with skin intact, your average feline. My attempts are, owing to my lack of physical grace, both frustrating and unsuccessful. I have learned, through experience, to assign this unpleasant task to my far more stealthy daughter. She’s good at it. In fact, if college doesn’t work out for her, I’m thinking of apprenticing her out to some gypsies — she has the makings of a fine pickpocket.
There is a certain amount of grace, borne of experience, in knowing what we’re good at — and, conversely, in accepting what we’re not. I spent the first half of my life beating my head against proverbial brick walls. Trying to be someone I wasn’t. Fighting against failure. Recoiling from rejection. Chasing after the meaningless. Making feeble attempts at cat wrangling.
Forcing myself to be who other people wanted me to be — quieter, neater, calmer, more ambitious — messed with my self-esteem with a ferocity that I can finally recognize. It was a burden, living that life. A burden that contributed greatly to an addiction problem. Having struggled with, accepted, and ultimately embraced recovery from said addiction, I am able now to recognize, if not with grace, at least with clarity, that letting go of the unrealistic expectations of others is one of the most liberating things I will ever do.
In my younger days, I thought that success was the opposite of failure. It’s not. Success is doing the best you can with what you’ve got. Success is making peace with being unable to catch the cat, recognizing that it still has to be done, and figuring out the best way to achieve the desired result without driving yourself crazy. That there can be as much success in letting go as there is in hanging on is an empowering realization.
I may never understand my deep-seated fear of rejection. I stopped writing and acting — things that I truly loved — because I was terrified of being rejected. And, let’s face it, these are two of the most rejection-filled professions in the world. What I’ve come to realize, what I wish I had known sooner, is that life is full of rejection. Unfortunately, it took me many years to recognize that I needed to put my big girl panties on and just plow ahead. What I know now is that not everyone is going to like you, agree with you, or share your passions. On the flip side, there will be plenty of folks that love you, quite a few that will respect your beliefs — even if they don’t agree with them — and a handful who will, if not share, at least support your dreams.
There is grace in acknowledging who I am and in accepting that some things simply do not matter at all. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will never learn to tap dance. This is not solely because my hips are shot or because I have no rhythm, which they are and I don’t. What age and experience has taught me is that if I don’t want to tap dance badly enough to spend hour after frustrating hour learning to do so, then guess what? I don’t have to. It’s just plain silly to invest my limited time and energies into any new skill that I’m not 100% committed to — even if that skill requires fabulous footwear and gives me an excuse to wear leg warmers again. I’ll just go ahead and buy the shoes. I’ll put them on and dance around my kitchen. I’m sure the neighbors won’t mind.
I have also given up on becoming a fluent Spanish speaker. I know enough to get by. I can even read it a little. I used to beat myself up about my inability to grasp the maddening syntax of Romance languages. Not anymore. I have accepted that I’ve gone as far as I can go with it. And I’m okay with that. The same holds true for other things. Things like higher math, Joyce, and Twitter.
I have decided that I want to spend whatever time I have left engaged in activities that fulfill me. In doing things that bring me joy and happiness. At the end of the day I want to feel a sense of accomplishment, rather than the exhaustion — both mental and physical — that is the by-product of failure (and, one would imagine, tap dancing).
I’m not talking about giving up the job that I’m not thrilled with, but is necessary for paying the bills. I understand that I’ll still have to do the dishes, the laundry, and the grocery shopping. Living on the street or in squalor are not options. They are not conditions conducive to happiness.
It’s my spare time that I want to spend more wisely. More judiciously. I want to write more than just the grocery list every single day. I want to paint some furniture, maybe even for profit. I want to interact meaningfully with people who share my passions. I want to more fully prepare my adolescent to leave the nest. I want to enjoy, rather than be annoyed by, my husband’s company. I want to learn to build and to maintain a website.
Whether I will do any of these things with beauty or with grace remains to be seen. I am, however, committed to doing them with fervor and enthusiasm, which is more than I can say about the attitude that I would have brought to tap dancing. If, at the end of the day, I decide that I don’t like, need, or want to do them, I’ll recognize that. The world will not come to a screeching halt — even my little corner of it — if I wind up being no good at painting a chest of drawers.
This is a Blog Hop! Check out what some other folks are contributing to the topic, Aging Gracefully!
Powered by Linky Tools
Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…