The important pleasures of childhood were playing outside on summer nights under the streetlights, going swimming, riding bikes and, now that I think of it, not having to cook. (No wonder people love their mothers—a personal chef on the premises.)
The important pleasures of mid-life were mostly private.
But what about the important pleasures of age? What are they?
Each of us has personal answers and it’s fun to mull them over and come up with a list. Here are mine and may this list set you off on your own quest:
You no longer have to do what the other kids do. One of the gifts of age is growing a mind of your own. Not that you didn’t have it before, but now the mind is more sure of its own thoughts. Independence has strengthened over the decades because you’ve found that much of what you were taught about life turned out to be untrue. (Despite what you were told, good guys don’t always win and nothing bad happens if you wear white shoes before Memorial Day.)
So, yes, later life is a wonderful time to use and polish the First Amendment and the nice thing is, you can’t wear it out. It’s like old silver…the more it’s used, the better it is. So we Americans can say just about anything without being tarred, feathered or fired.
Now, if you wonder why this freedom comes into full bloom in later life, it could be that you have retired and escaped from the worker box, the parent box and all the other boxes of life. (I don’t know one single person past 60 who considers herself in a box labelled “senior”.) And once you are out of a box, thoughts loosen and run free and the tongue along with them.
Some people think this is crankiness of age. I think it is the honesty of age. If you aren’t going to tell the truth about life now, when will you?
Another important pleasure of age: That’s the experience of appreciation, of gratitude for still being alive on a tiny planet in a huge universe with other humans who have been afforded the same miraculous privilege. Every day in every way I grow more grateful for what I have and do and did.
So what…you may say. This is pleasure? Somehow it is. Gratitude has a calming effect–like sitting in the autumn sunshine with one perfect cup of tea.
I wouldn’t be surprised if blood pressure goes down when people count their blessings. Earlier in life, I didn’t have time to count my blessings, only time enough to count the kids in the station wagon. Were all aboard? Which gets me to my third important pleasure, family….
There are probably some people on the planet whose families have given them more trouble than mine and I’d surely like to go out to coffee with them to compare stories. You name it and family has given me grief–yes, ancestors, peers and descendants. Murder, mayhem and madness to start. Yet despite this, I consider my family one of my greatest assets. Yes, my dad deserted us in the Depression, but it was he who later showed me that life was larger than living in a factory town in Connecticut. Yes, my first husband and I divorced, but he stuck by his kids all these years. Also, he, a devoted fisherman, has helped me thru life by telling me long ago that I was like—no, not like a rose—but a fishing line.
He said a fishing line looks pretty and graceful moving through the air over the water, but when big pressures pull it down, it holds. That one compliment sustained me through hard times. What a gift.
And so it goes with almost every family member. Each has given me a gift and they continue their charity. One gift that keeps on giving is that I can be myself with them—totally, completely, without reservation. They accept me and I can relax into myself in way that doesn’t happen in other situations.
I guess appreciating family is a pleasure of growing older because I was not insightful enough when I was younger to notice that I sit in a ring of comfort. Or maybe it was that I never sat. Busy mothers don’t sit.
Now, this post is certainly straying into the personal, but that’s the nature of a diary, geezer or not. However, after writing 233 columns about aging and health for a newspaper over the last few years, writing a personal blog now seems to be—well—too personal for someone whose habit is more journalistic.
However, this post is intended, not to inform, but to send you on a quest to find your own important pleasures of age. Please consider using the comment section below to post your own thoughts on the subject. Just know what you post about your pleasures may be read by all my other readers. But if not the truth now, when?