TO BE OR NOT TO BE – Shakespeare
TO BE IS TO DO- Rousseau
TO DO IS TO BE – Sartre
DO-BE DO-BE DO-BE DOO- Sinatra
If you are pushing 40 or are 40+, you are a new brand of youth.
You know you have a couple of options: lead a sedentary life, of menial work and obligations, day-in, day out, and rot; or keep the adventures going and your passions alive. Some of us say, “I will FIGHT the 40s!” and work out like maniacs at the gym, do the latest juice cleanse, take on every new activity imaginable, date younger people (guilty of all of the above; kinda proud of the last one)… Others say, “Naw, man, I’m cruising into this” and let the days unfold, treading gently into new lives and possibilities; still, many find joy in the success of their offspring. They roll out the red carpet for their spawn because that spotlight IS their joy. So we have different styles. The question is, as we enter the half-way mark of our lives, are we trying to PROVE something that we really don’t need to prove? How do we do this gracefully and not egotistically?
After my divorce, I felt a strong desire to take on lots of responsibility. I didn’t want alimony, but I did want to spearhead projects, volunteer my time, be a leader in organizations, further my education, perform optimally in athletics, and stake my claim as the dominant provider for my daughter. Whenever someone asked a favor of me, I obliged. I wanted to prove myself an autonomous woman. Can I get a “Hell yeah!”
Actually I was more like neurotic bitch.
I spread myself too thin. DOing validated me. BEing was not part of the equation. Oops. Not sure if this had something to do with aging or just wanting to prove to myself that I could handle life, but now that I know that I CAN do a million things at once, I am no longer interested. My new goal is balance. I do enjoy being productive, but it is far more important to me to take life slowly, digest it, and enjoy it. Sometimes that means DOING NOTHING and just being. This, however, is a challenge to the 40-somethings. We want to show that we’ve still got it. That we can rock it, and shake it, and rule it, and embrace it, and own it… and all that shit. But let’s not sugar-coat it. A rose by any other name is still a: … midlife crisis. The trick is to do it with grace. We can’t desperately cling to the past. We want to love the best parts of ourselves as we are right now, to the highest potential we can. And the beauty of 40 is, we know how to do it.
My feeling, for all of us at war with “old”, is to just take it easy. We do not need to look like a movie star. We do not need to achieve. No, we really don’t. That’s all kool-aid. We don’t need to take on more activities or strive to accomplish more, if it’s killing us. We just need to remember the lessons of our masters (i.e, our children): play, imagine, and love; remember the wisdom of our teachers (Jesus, Buddha, Rumi): suffering is part of life, forgive, let go, laugh, love; and we need to remember the wisdom of our parents: get off your fucking phones, off your damn tvs, get outside, and behave. And call your mother.
So forty-somethings, pioneers of new youth, full of action, pride, and friendship…. what is your tip for aging gracefully?
I will re-blog some of the best tips.