My darlin companion Louie has passed away and the empty space in my life where he used to be is very large. He was just over fifteen and we had fourteen great years together. This is the end of a great love affair.
Lately when I am in the garden or trying to fall asleep or get my yoga on my brain starts going back to all the times in my life I mis-stepped, mis-spoke, mis-judged, well missed something. Basically was wrong, big times, tiny ones, it seems there is an endless supply of self loathing to be tapped into in my brain. What is up with that, I do not want to go there, I cannot fix it. I want to smell the roses, all the be here now be in the moment stuff. I choose scenes from my movie when I was very happy, glorious moments and try to focus on them, blot out the other stuff. That sticky gooey bad stuff is persistent and keeps coming back. I am beginning to understand all the vices people use to escape their brain, to stop the crazy noise. A few days ago I remembered Mary Oliver. Now when the crazy noise starts I sit and read one of her poems and it helps
by Mary Oliver
I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?
Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?
Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
I went rolling into my 70th birthday angry. I did not want to acknowledge, celebrate, make merry at all. Then came the force of family and friends determined to celebrate. I was wined and dined, toasted and cheered. I was given many wonderful, thoughtful and some crazy gifts. The first weekend with family and then the second weekend with friends. So many people were kind in so many ways, I softened and then I softened some more. When I felt all in that I could not possibly celebrate anymore I smiled. All my amazing family and friends took that anger and turned it sweet, I am such a lucky woman just turned happily seventy.
Aging gracefully, somebody shoot me now. I am so sick of that term. People! My age already pushes me to the invisibility edge and now I am suppose to wear muted tones and blend into the dirt. I will be in the dirt soon enough. When I was young and met an older woman that was elegant, gracefull, reserved I thought, yes I want to be like that when my hair is grey, classy. I am full into the crone stage now and folks bring on the crazy.No no no to black, grey, taupe, brown. Bring on the orange and fushia and lime green, crazy hair and anyone who thinks I am not “classey” can kiss my old ass. There is really no reason left to play by the rules ladies, you can dance in the checkout line and howl at the moon, real loud while wearing hot pink. I am not by any means saying I want to be a mean, insensitive old crank or a public nuisance in crazy cloths [well maybe a little]. I am just saying there is not that much time left and I have played by rules for a very long time and so few people are having fun and I want to cut the strings on this conventional corset, it is pinching me. I don’t have to hold down a job, get a promotion or be reasonable or responsible to much of anyone else, this is my time. I am just saying, Crones just wanna have fun.
My grandson is fourteen months old and I am his primary caregiver while his parents struggle to keep their carreer’s on track but would really rather be where I am, home with their child. I am watching daily the first outbursts of passion, when he is angry over something he desperatley wants but I cannot let him have for his safety or overall well being. His anger is so fresh and real and heartfelt and my job is to contain it, to distract it, to molify it without breaking that spirit that has just burst forth all alive and full of innocent passion. I am humbeld to be witnessing this and careful to be handling it as best I possibly can because this is his life and will shape so much that will come after and I want him to be all that he possibly can so I must get it right. At the end of the day he is blissfully babbeling and playing oblivious to all that has happened in the day and I am completley exhausted.
I bought a book by Ellen Langer, “Counter Clockwise” read it and now I am trying to change my mind. the book is about mindfullness, the concept that how we think is who we are not just mentally but physically. She writes about several studies about aging, how we think about it, how we treat ourselves and other people. The power of suggestion, treat someone like they are old and incompetent and pretty soon sure enough they will be. Got me thinking a lot that I am pushing my foot into the grave, thinking oh poor me is capable of less now. So I have decided to pretend I am twenty years younger. At first I thought it still important to be cautious, not hurt myself, not overdue it but that is what got me diggin this hole for myself in the first place. So what if I hurt myself, get overtired, get a muscle lockup, I have been there before and it did not kill me but all this cautious thinking just might and I fear it will be a slow sad death. I will let you know how it goes.
To create sculpture, paintings, all those images that come from a deep place in my mind I have to be All IN. I have to be totally connected to that moment with my brain not taking little trips outside that realm. I try to apply that to my life in general but find it difficult. I can be in the moment enough to notice body language, shifts in the mood in a gathering. I can be there with my grandson but then I do not want to miss a moment of him, he is such a fantastic teacher and my heart is all in for sure. It is another story when I am walking alone, watering the garden, a million repeat tasks. Those times should be perfect for communing with the moment, nature, the air I am sucking in. But no, I am lost in some past event or obscure conversation where I should have said this or that but did not. A total waste of the moment, my energy , what is left of my brain. I listened to an interview with Ellen Langer on a podcast from “On Being.com”, all about mindfullness and it brought that home to me once again. Must not waste myself on old conversations and general rubbish that pops up in my mind, except to think I wish I new how short life would be fifty years ago. ah well it might have driven me totally nuts then, some things are better fermented. work with what you have.
I thought and thought about it and decided. I need a new take on being seventy years old. I have been telling myself actively or subliminally that there is no logic in starting any new big phases of my life as I am so near the end of it, stepping off into the void, could go any day now and clearly I am not the power house I used to be. Now I am thinking bullroar, I mean really anybody can go anytime right? Also sounds sooooo totally self pitying, oh poor me crap. I have always been more prolific, more driven than anyone I know so if I am running on half speed big deal, I will now be closer to normal. If I am stepping into the void and time is limited then I need to get off my fanny and live it up. So first I changed my hairstyle a first step in any adventure, got my yoga back on tack. Then I ordered a great big beautiful slab roller for the studio to help make my clay dreams come true. My new toy/adventure in clay should arrive today or maybe tomorrow.
I am slowing down or trying to. I am reading Annie Proulx’s “Postcards” and I am trying to go slow. I read a lot and sometimes I am charging through the pages, just wanting the story and getting angry at the descriptive words in the way, just tell me what happens dammit. Proulx’s words are marvelous and I would miss so much if I read them in my usual race to the end, it is the journey, I must remember it is the journey, take the long way round this time. so when I find myself speed reading I stop and go back a page or two. I need to do this in my life also. I am forcing my way through projects getting angry at my body because it cannot keep up and of course injuring myself so that I must lay on the couch for two or maybe three days to recover. My body knows what my mind cannot accept. I am aging, I must go slow. when I am forced by my body to slow down it is really a blessing. I take several days to complete a project that formerly I would do in one day. I find the slowness can be sweet, I see so many things I would have crashed over in my rush and I have a lovely time. For some reason I cannot sustain this and fall back into my old pattern of rush crash and burn. RCB syndrome as I call it and once again I am angry at my body. I am ultimately angry at being seventy. This is an ignorant way to conduct my life and I am missing the sweet time that is at this age my due. I am going to start with this book no matter how long it takes and just maybe if I can keep my mind calm it will roll over into the rest of my life.