Things that Have Gotten Easier/Harder with Age: Easier
1. While I still don’t like it, I have an easier time calling strangers on the phone now.
2. Admiring pretty things without feeling like I need to own them.
3. Saying “no,” though I am still not good enough at it. Isn’t this a problem for most women?
4. Taking care of my teeth. My-father-the-dentist hasn’t been around for a long time, so there’s no one but me to be upset by lousy dental habits.
5. Knowing when I should pay someone else to do a thing—usually yardwork.
6. Believing that I won’t live forever. Not that I have made any Big Decisions or Built Better Habits because of this, but I do understand that I only have so many years to “get it right.”
7. Accepting that either I may never “get it right” or that there is no such thing in many or most areas of my life.
8. Accepting that I was not the best parent in the world and being more pleased about the bad stuff I managed not to pass on to another generation than about the not-so-good parts that I couldn’t manage to avoid. Mostly I/we did rather well, just not as perfectly as we had ourselves convinced we were doing before adolescence hit.
9. Knowing what I do and do not want to wear, being utterly unconcerned that I am a large woman who likes to wear large pieces of fabric in odd shapes that the rest of the world doesn’t necessarily think are “flattering.” I like to be a Presence. I’m safer that way—in control of the space and, to some extent, how I’m perceived.
10. Making peace with the fact that I have crappy feet and pretty shoes (including a pair of actually comfortable black suede flats) are just not an option.
11. I no longer care whether men find me attractive. And I think I have managed to head into my later years without becoming invisible, except now and then when I’m around someone who is ageist, sexist, and size-ist all at once, and then I’m VERY good at noticing that behavior, holding that grudge, and knowing that it is that person’s fault, NOT mine.
12. Not always needing to be the center of attention, or strain for it. Not ALWAYS, anyway. There is a caveat here: I am also better at accepting that I am profoundly shy and still find strangers mighty scary. I may be an introverted extrovert, or an extroverted introvert, but I’m most likely just an only child who moved a lot as a kid and grew up being the perpetual weird new kid. I suppose it’s an improvement that I find all this interesting to map, but no longer urgent or very important.
13. Sometimes I’m better at putting my own oxygen mask on first.
Things that Have Gotten Easier/Harder with Age: Harder
1. Writing. As in with a utensil on paper. Arthritic hands & wrists are a difficulty in many areas of my life (bye-bye yoga, bye-bye really tight crochet stitching, and God forbid I ever need a cane…).
2. Sitting on airplanes. Walking on cobblestones. The marble floors of the Uffizzi. Knowing that I will never ski again. Making peace with never having learned to surf. Knowing that my hips and wrists will never again let me spend hours at a potter’s wheel playing with the nice, cold mud. Knowing that my titanium knees will not let me take up tap dancing or ballet or running.
3. Knowing when to cut myself a break. Is this harder? Probably it’s the same as ever. Maybe I’m better in the sense that the list of things I beat myself up about is a little shorter, but I might be more deeply ticked off by old, bad choices than I used to be?
4. Sometimes I still have to fight to remember to put my own oxygen mask on first.
5. God. God is harder the older I get. I had hoped it would go the other way. This would be fine if I were less interested in God as time passed, but I’m still in a relationship with a Deity I do not understand and often do not find a source of peace.
6. Accepting that, at 66-going-on-67 I can no longer claim to be Middle-Aged. I rather liked being Middle-Aged (except for the knees and developing arthritis).
7. It is harder to go to bed at sane hours. It was never easy, but now…
8. Being a snob. I mean, I’m still frightfully good at it, but there’s this other noisy voice in my head now, too, reminding me that my ass is not actually made of chocolate cake and my opinions are not written in Gold on God’s forehead.
9. Not being able to fix things for my (grown, highly competent, nicely married) children or grandchildren. I should have enough brains and money for this, yes? Apparently, no.
10. Christmas. I still love it, but it’s been decades since it had the heart’s fire it had in my childhood and young adulthood. And that hurts. Every year. I don’t think it has to do with #5—Christmas is the holiday I don’t have problems with, theologically since I’m pretty settled about the whole Incarnation thing. It’s partially about the loss of my maternal grandfather, who’s been gone for 44 years, and partially a mystery to me. That being said, carols do still solace me considerably.
11. Thinning hair and eyelashes. This is partially genetic and partially drug-related, but both are sources of something like real anguish, which is, obviously trivial, but there it is.
12. Make-up. I used to be good at it and enjoy it, even though I didn’t wear much. Now I only do the absolute minimum that will make me look less dead on zoom.
13. Not loathing people who do harm to other people, especially those I love, or even like a lot. Oh, wait, I’ve always sucked at that. Maybe its that the loathing runs deeper. It’s harder these days to hang on to my belief that the vicious and violent shouldn’t simply die, that they’re human and therefore sacred. I’m managing to cling to that world view, but it’s harder than it used to be. Ever since Timothy McVeigh was executed and I caught myself being relieved that I wasn’t sharing planet-space with him, it’s been more and more of a fight. This isn’t so much a political opinion (though it’s that, too) as a matter of feeling like those who do harm harm me as well as the world. But then, of course, I do harm, have done harm, so maybe hanging on to a belief in not offing people who hurt my kids has more to do with hoping folks won’t hasten my death when I’m a jerk. I don’t know. Do I have to know? I’m already struggling to keep my peace with the fact that God is, by definition, undefinable, so can’t I have a pass on this one, even though the two are connected?