Every once in a while, I catch myself being genuinely amused by something pretty ordinary. Lame, even, and there I am, all laughing and delighted. Who is this woman? I’m scared to death that I’ve become this boring, bland, vanilla middle aged woman. Someone with all her edges blurred and blunt, everything all soft-ed over and mushy. No hardtwist substance to push against. No non-negotiables. When I think these thoughts, I have this sinking feeling that I’m dissolving into the vast culture of women my age.
Worse, when I think about examining this in my blog, there is this voice that says “Who cares? I mean really. Who gives a rat’s ass what you feel like, in your little Floral Park bubble on Long Island?”
Let’s just sit with that one for a while. Would that be so bad? Perhaps not. Perhaps it would be really good practice to let go of whether anyone gives a shit, or whether anyone is reading this or not, and begin the hard business of just being me without an audience. (Ironic that I’m writing about it…but, just, like, shut up, ok?)
So. Me the middle-aged mush. It’s not all bad. In this time of life, I don’t get knocked over so easily by Shit Happening. Maybe I had more pzazz but less presence before. Maybe I don’t command a room anymore because I’m actually being with you in it. Maybe I don’t have so many non-negotiables because I’ve learned to negotiate (I love the definition: “to to arrange for or bring about by discussion and settlement of terms. To manage; transact; conduct. To move through, around, or over in a satisfactory manner. Those are all very useful skills.)
I don’t feel as quick-witted (not by a country mile) as I used to be. This saddens me a little. But I’m more careful with my speech, and that’s really fine by me.
My energy reserves have a different quality these days. I can tell when I’m tired, and I respond in a friendlier way than I used to.
The whole of Madison Avenue, the entire advertising industry screams at us women to fight aging, to hang onto our youth. That industry is what’s speaking when I put myself down for being delighted by something fairly mundane. Couple years ago, a dentist convinced me I needed a bite plate that would reposition my jaw to where it was when I was thirty. I wore it every night for months. I felt my jaw repositioning, but I didn’t like it and I’ve quit wearing it. Here’s the deal: I’M NOT THIRTY. I’m fifty-seven, and my jaw is here at this age. My lips will be like this. Etc. I will decay at whatever rate I decay.
It doesn’t mean I can’t be a really good yoga teacher. Doesn’t mean I never wear make up. Doesn’t mean I have to lay down and die today. But it does mean that I be real with where I am in life, and that I can let that be so, without all the resistance and the fighting and the wishing I were cooler, younger, more sharp-edged. I am mostly a soft place for my loved ones to land. And my sharp edges are really pretty sharp, but they’re sheathed. I employ them on the rare occasions when they’re needed. That’s my intent, anyway. I hold that intent close in my heart, and meet each day with as much grace as possible. It’s all I can do. All any of us can do.