coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Maiden, Mother, and Crone

I recently read a review for The Lightning Tree, a book by Emily Woof. The last sentence of the review said "...she succeeds in conveying the 'infinity of moments' that make up a lifetime."

Well, THAT scared the ever lovin' crap outta of me! I know it was meant to do otherwise. I realize the reviewer was reaching towards his/her best truth. In fact, it was a good sentence. However, I wonder if the concept of "a lifetime" is flexible, depending on your age?

I am going to tell you my theory on all this and (be forewarned) I will generalize like crazy. None of it will be new or insightful. Like on Battlestar Galactica, this has all happened before and it will happen again. Here goes.

When you are young a lifetime seems mostly ahead of you. The idea of building a life is formidable, but also exciting. I like to think time is meant to be filled with joy and wonder. The young still seem to know that. Youth is about hope, anticipation, and energy.
You learn about yourself and so much more. If the young tend to romanticize the future, it is their right. Youth is a dangerous, wonderful, adventurous stage.

Middle age is when you might consider your accomplishments and bask in your strength, or vice versa. You've probably had your ass kicked a time or two. In middle age people are a bit more savvy. A lifetime is no longer an idea, it has become a concrete reality. Middle age is when you finally figure out the mechanics, the process of living a life. At this point a person is usually sustained by responsibilities, duties, and love. Middle aged people are busy, busy, busy. It can be a stable, fulfilling time in a life. 


Older people know they are living on borrowed time. They realize there is an end to all this. If you are lucky enough to retire you eventually find yourself freed from routine distractions. Old age can be messy, fraught with physical limitations, health issues, money worries, and unresolved fears. Oh yeah, and sometimes you leak. However, your time is your own.

I am not really "old" yet, but I am no longer middle aged by any stretch of the imagination. As I age, I begin to think old age
has more in common with youth than with middle age because time has that lovely transcendent quality I was too busy to notice in middle age. Now I have time, once again, to experience the moment with eyes wide open.
Old age is a glorious and terrifying time of life. It depends on the person to balance that conflict. It is a struggle, I'll tell you that.

So when I read a sentence like "...she succeeds in conveying 'the infinity of moments' that make up a lifetime" I am not thinking, "Oh isn't that a beautiful thought?" Nor am I thinking "Hmmm, I'll have to remember that one when I have a few moments to reflect."  I am thinking "Holy Shit! A lifetime has a lot of moments to live through, but they are definitely not infinite."  


Yep, winter is coming.




20 comments:

  1. I can relate to every word of this, Colette, and contribute one more frightening old age dilemma. Mine. I am seventy three years old, closer to seventy four. I've had charge of two children for five years; the older will be 18 in December and is in college. She wants to be independent of me; shett of me, even, and has resources in the event I can no longer help her. The younger, though, has developed disabilities that have alienated much of the remaining family and the resources they represent. She is just starting high school. For at least four more years I must be available, and past that, given the lack of a support system for her. I often feel my moments must be infinity, in defiance of the order of the universe.

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    1. I think of your situation often. I'm sad to learn L has these disabilities. I believe the strength of your particular will is enough to enable you to achieve your goals. Come hell or high water.

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  2. Yes, I see aging in the same way. And I try to "experience the moment with eyes wide open". But some days that awareness of the "definitely not infinite" scares the ever lovin' crap right out of me too. I don't think of it a lot, but when I do, I really try to get my mind off of it right away. Not sure if that is denial or just common sense?:)

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    1. There are always going to be "some days" (and states of high anxiety) when denial IS common sense.

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    2. Which is to say, we need to be true to ourselves and do what feels right...for us.

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  3. I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in my early 40s and "infinity" got redefined very quickly. But it taught me a lesson that there are infinite ways to enjoy life every day. Adn that works well with me.

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    1. Early 40's is so young to have to face cancer.

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  4. if you keep dividing the moments into ever smaller bits, that's how you get to infinity - well, that's the way I understand that line.

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    1. Ah, I like that a lot. Maybe I should read the darn book instead of just reacting to the reviewer. Ha!

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  5. The number that defines me to others, is not the person I am.

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    1. I like your attitude and I know what you mean. I don't like being defined by anything associated with me except my personality.

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  6. I loved reading this. I don't ever think of the word infinite when I think of my own life. I do think of it when I think of life itself, all that came before me and all that will come after.

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    1. Lovely thoughts, and they are comforting. I am happy you liked the post.

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  7. Good post, Colette. My daughter says 60s is the new middle-age. I like that! I agree about senior status, once you retire, it's a lot like being a kid again. You can set aside so many responsibilities of life and just enjoy it.

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  8. Pondering. Further comment pending except to say: resonates.

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    1. I look forward to reading your thoughts.

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  9. Not infinite... ain't that the Truth! Dammit. *Winks* And yet yes, Old Age does have more in common with Youth... I'm actually rather enjoying my 2nd Childhood and refusing to grow up as I grow ever older since the growing up part is entirely optional. Blessings from the Arizona Desert... Dawn... The Bohemian

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    1. I like to think we're growing down now.

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  10. Have a great week, Colette.
    That's a beautiful picture.

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So, whadayathink?