By Pamela Noel
Special to Plumas News
So this is what is happening. This is why I need to wiggle around in bed before I roll out of bed, getting my hips used to movement before I hit the floor. This is why I steady myself in the night as I feel my way to the bathroom. This is why I am sometimes startled when I look in the mirror when passing. I am getting older.
I have observed these things happening to others, but my observations never seemed to apply to me. I have often heard about folks getting creaky, slowing down, becoming unsteady. I couldn’t imagine it happening to me, certainly. I feel like I have an internal age of about 30. I have thoughts, feelings, and inclinations of a person much younger than my chronology would indicate. But that’s not what my “outer appearance ” tells the world.
I have decided to stop tinkering with the color of my hair. I look in the mirror and see a lot of silver clamoring to be seen. Soon, the struggle will be over, for the brown will give up, surrendering to that inevitable silver.
Even though this outer shell is shifting, there is an inner core that remains untouched by the changes that time typically brings. This inner core feels like home. It is a place where I belong; where it is safe and secure. Everything outside can be taken away. It can burn. It can flood. It can be stolen. It can decay and sicken. What is inside remains … staying with us for our entire lives.
The process of getting older can be one of adventure — doing things that I haven’t tried before. Enjoying the expression of creating, regardless of the medium, is the kind of playing I can do. Making a mess, since I am the one in charge now, is my idea of fun. Whether my expressive mess lands on a canvass or a fence, or becomes a garden, it is up to me. Getting older is not a choice. How we go about it, is. What else can I learn from this process?
There are the obvious things we will need to let go of. And we won’t know what they are until “it’s time to know.” It could be certain physical limitations, limitations on work lives, created by a “retirement age.” It could be the feeling of invisibility as one walks into a store, and is no longer greeted in the same manner in which a younger person is served. It could be the inclination to alter the speed of maneuvering around the planet. It could be the amount that is “accomplished” each day. It could be choosing to take a nap, recouping some of the energy spent earlier in the day.
For me it is a realization that our time is limited, and thus, each minute becomes extremely precious. This reality makes it even more crucial to discover what is important to us … not only what we want to accomplish, but how we want to live our lives. What kind of person do we want to be?
These seem like they should be easy questions at this stage in life. I have had many trips around the sun trying to “figure it out.” Yet, I am left … still wondering. Is there something more that I am meant to accomplish? Or am I just supposed to “ride it out,” being kind, supportive of my friends and family, relaxing with the fruits that I have created? The questions remain, accompanying me on this journey. The answers are still elusive.