It’s Never Too Late? But For What?
Its never too late is a phrase I’ve learned to hate. It’s a bigger lie than I’ll still respect you in the morning or read my lips no new taxes or no, your ass doesn’t look fat in those pants.
My entire life I bought into the belief that as long as you’re still breathing there is always tomorrow and another opportunity to get it right.
Of late I’ve come to understand there is a point at which when you knock, opportunity says, “sorry, no one’s home.”
The difficult fact to acknowledge is you actually do get to a place when you’re just too damn old to do some of the things you’ve dreamed of doing. Years of garnering wisdom cannot make up for physical prowess, but it can lead you to a different path.
Sure you can point to an Iris Apfel at 96 still hawking her wears on HSN, but she didn’t start that business in her nineties.
Starting over at a certain point is pointless.
The revelation that you’ve reached a time where certain of life’s choices are no longer available is heartbreaking and yet one must come to terms with the fact it’s a stark reality of aging.
There are many who reach the laugh, laugh golden years and are quite happy to hang up their spurs. After a lifetime of hard work and smart investing many seniors are happy to travel and play golf or tennis if health permits.
So you’re asking, what’s so bad about that, Norma? Must you always bitch about this whole getting-old-thing? Why can’t you just shut up and go to a driving range?
Sadly, I’m of the school that believes that there’s so much to do in life I selfishly want to experience more.
When younger I’d read stories about 60-year olds that went to law school or 50-year olds that lost their jobs and started their own businesses and I found it so inspiring.
Now of course I realize these people were not in their seventies. Oops, that smarts.
So what is someone standing at the doorway of old age supposed to do when their spirit and mind says start that business or get that job when opportunity slams the door in their crows-footed face?
Baby Boomers joke with one another constantly about forgetting what they’re saying from one minute to the next. Walking into a room and being unable to even remember why you did and the inability to recall names or familiar words. We all compare what body part needs replacing or aches that particular day and mourn the fact we can’t eat an entire corned beef sandwich without inhaling Tums.
My body is now calling the shots and literally rules my world. I feel like a mummy that walks forward while pieces of wrappings drop off with every step. “Ouch” now describes my athletic prowess.
I do recognize the fact many grow older without as much physical damage, but no one’s body totally seems to escape the ravages of time unless they’re one of the really lucky ones.
In the end of course the truly lucky ones are actually those still alive to complain about the aches and pains.
I had a doctor friend who used to say that if you’re over forty and you wake up in the morning and something doesn’t hurt, you’re dead.
Okay, I’ve kvetched enough, but isn’t there some truth to my bitching? Yep, humor aside, time often robs us of our dreams.
To be realistic most seniors cannot become a country music star at eighty, go back to school and become a doctor at seventy-eight or get an MBA at ninety. Life is what it is and time unfortunately is a cruel dictator. And yes, you can argue that becoming a country star at eighty is doable, but try to come up against the young people running the music and show businesses and see how far you’d get unless you’re a Maggie Smith or Judy Densch.
So what can one do as the years pile up? Plenty, if agenda matches ability. We can take on new goals and let the old pipe dreams fly away on that Spring breeze that carries old desires away to some youth-filled Neverland.
Is it sad to say goodbye to those aspirations so long a part of our soul? Of course, and one of the pains of aging is letting go of the dreams so long inside, much like old friends we’ll never seen again.
When I was sixty I applied for a job at a newspaper that was far below my abilities. The interview went well as the editor knew me by reputation and we’d even met socially on occasion. At the end he asked me, “Would you feel awkward working here among so many young people?”
“Where do you think I’d feel better working, at a nursing home?” I asked.
Needless to say he’d dropped the A Bomb (age bomb) and literally given his prejudices away.
Yes, sadly there seems to be a time when one outlives their usefulness in a youth-oriented culture. When it’s time to leave and despite how much you’d like to stay, the party’s pretty much over.
So as when we were younger and a goal didn’t materialize no matter how hard we tried, we must now bury many of our ambitions and seek new, realistic objectives.
Of course for some it’s easier as they are happy with a retirement filled with easily achievable goals. A hole in one, regular visits to the grandchildren, a riverboat cruise along the Danube, trip to Las Vegas or a Maj Jong tournament, and these are all great ways to spend one’s retirement.
Yet so many of even these aims are dependent on physical or financial health and many times when dream meets reality one falls short.
No, this isn’t intended to depress the hell out of you; it’s just a shout out to perhaps find a new project that inspires your passion.
Especially now when we’re relegated to our homes in hiding from the monster virus it’s easier to feel helpless and hopeless about the future. Now when each minute takes on new meaning and significance a year of our time has been stolen from our lives. For many it will be difficult to tear oneself away from our new berth in front of the big screen and our affair with Netflix and that’s okay, too.
I’m just kind of venting about getting back out into the world and creating a new existence.
Whether it’s resting on one’s laurels or realizing a long held dream, go for it and make it happen knowing what warriors we Baby Boomers truly are.
Accept what you can’t do with grace, create the life you desire and recognize how much you still have within you to achieve.
There’s a reason poet Dylan Thomas wrote, “Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
So I’m schlepping myself away from this jigsaw puzzle and checking out my bucket list. For every item I can no longer achieve I’ll add another one I can.
Oy! I think the first one I’ll add is get up off the couch in under five minutes. Hmmm, do you think I can still hitchhike through Italy?
I’d be happy to do a cheer for your goals, but I’m not sure I could lift the pom poms over my head.