I am 77 years old, and I’m still relishing my old age. Perhaps “still” isn’t quite correct; I wasn’t relishing it until a few months ago, just shortly before reaching that august age. Okay, I’ve been relishing it for about 5 months. But it’s real. Real enough that I’m not giving it up. My ageism was a killer, and I’m ready to live longer – and better – than I thought I was. Better than I thought I could. Something had to change.
“Change creates disturbance” was one of my husband’s favorite sayings. “It can be good or it can be bad,” he would add. He was wise. He had lived it time and again, just as we all do, and knew the truth of it. Whether the change has been given to us or brought about by our own choices, we have to dive in to the new whether we’re ready for it or not. Life moves on. We move with it one way or another. It can be easy; it can be monumentally hard.
This change that needed to happen was a long-delayed attempt to finish the final sprint in a marathon called Martha’s Blog. I had dragged my feet long enough.
Sitting down to write that Very First Blog To Be Put Out There Over The Internet was pretty much like every other significant change that I’d lived into. It felt alternately terrifying – exciting – daring – foolish – hopeful – doubtful – challenging – writer blocking – inevitable. I was going to start my own blog, and writing my first piece was going to be a gut-wrenching risk. It was like a lot of other risks I’d taken in the past, yet driven by the new me that was emerging after a long, hard journey through grief after the death of my husband.
He had been my biggest cheerleader. He believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. He pushed me to use my gifts even when I resisted because I felt I wasn’t good enough. This would be my first venture without a cheerleader by my side. I had to be my own confidence. My own trust. That was the monumentally hard part.
I was still wavering and avoiding actually sitting down to write. But I came across this word of wisdom: “You’ll never know until you try.” Uffda! (Minor point: I’m of Norwegian ancestry mostly and live in Minnesota. This is how we talk…) I made a large, albeit unartistic sign and hung it across the room from where I sit. I couldn’t avoid it.
Smart move. Though uninspiring in its artistry, its words finally sank in. You’ll never know until you try. I had to know. I wrote the blog.
“Old Age Reconsidered” didn’t end up on my own WordPress site that I’d tried in vain to set up, though. (We all know about best-laid plans, right?) It landed on Oxygen Buzz, the most fun, comprehensive, informative, charmingly introspective website about aging well that I have found! I had landed in the mind of its co-creator, Bill Apablasa, when I emailed him a couple of times about his brilliant articles. He saw a writer. A writer?! What? What? When he invited me to be their first guest blogger, I suddenly knew that the time had come. I could no longer say I wasn’t “good enough.” I sent that blog – the second monumentally hard part. I had to know.
It was published September 13, 2018. And my life has been changed forever.
I had come so close to calling the whole writing thing off when WordPress was becoming a tech hill too steep to climb. But the universe – or fate – or serendipity – or chance – or God – had other plans that were already moving behind the scenes.
Timing really is everything. Change shows up when it’s going to show up and sometimes a myriad of little miracles all have to align perfectly for it to appear. And it always disrupts the flow.
We know what it’s like to walk into a change that shines the bright light of hope and eager expectation. Especially when we’ve been waiting for it for a long time. We deserve this. Maybe we hold our breath at first, and the beginning of the new thing is delicious. Nothing stands in our way now. Life is good.
But we also know that when we stand at the foot of a change that crashes hope and promises only heartsickness, we can find ourselves terrified. And life hovers so strangely then. Some of them can turn out to be the very things that show us the way to the deepest, most profound, even miraculous new places that we’d never known existed. In time, even joy. But in the beginning, and perhaps for a very long time, they are soul-crushing.
I’m well into my 70’s now. I have known so many changes of both kinds that I can see the patterns: fractures and mendings; dead ends and limitless possibilities; sleeplessness and the salvific long, deep sleeps; irretrievable losses and immeasurable gains.
There are patterns to our lives. Some are so beautiful that they save us from despair. Some, so awful that we thought we would never survive them. But most of us did – and most of us do. And that is miracle every time.
In looking back, I realize that most changes have turned out to be quite different from what I had expected them to be. The best have taught me a new patience and a new reality. Life is good. Life is terrible. Change creates disturbance. It can be good or it can be bad. We adjust and we make our way through in our own way. And sometimes we are amazed at what has shown up on the new horizon that was just over the hill.
We have found out that we are stronger than we thought we could ever be. We have discovered that most of the fears that kept us from moving ahead were bogus, cheap and prone to collapsing.
Every change changes us, and by a grace that I do not always understand, I find a depth to my living now that outweighs even the wondrous heights that I so eagerly looked for and cherished for so long.
When I look back, at age 77, I can literally find myself groaning or laughing at the “me” that I was and cheering for the “me” that is showing up now. It’s so very refreshing. Change creates disturbance. Yes, yes it does. It’s how I got here, and I’m very okay with that.