“Tempus Fugit” the voice on the phone declared emphatically.
“???” I replied.
“I’m feeling 62 this year, that means you’re feeling 51. It’s time to get cracking.” said my sister.
“What does 62 feel like?” I asked, wondering what this had to do with our conversation about whether I was going to enter a local public art exhibition.
“62 is when you realize that there are not many tomorrows left and if anything is going to get done, it better get done NOW!”, she proclaimed.
“Oh.” I said, a little forlornly. “But I am getting things done. Why just this morning I cleaned the kitchen, took the dogs to the vet for their shots, weeded the garden and…”
“Tempus Fugit” repeated my sister. “How long will it take to make something that you can enter into a show? The deadline is one month away…that’s loads of time isn’t it?”
I sighed. Of course it is enough time…in a perfect world. In a world where I am 31 and not 51. I am still getting used to what it means to be over 50. Obviously, thanks to my sister, I now have an inkling of what it’s like to be over 60, but I’m not there yet, so I’m not going to worry too much about it…today. But my 50’s are a new movie that I am acting in, one with a script that is familiar only in that I have seen some of it before and declared, “I’m not going to be like that when I’m old.”
Here’s a small view of my life over 50.
I find myself saying things, blabbering, wandering through a conversational forest as if I have no idea where the path is, much less who else is on it. I see the same looks on peoples’ faces that I had when I was young and listening to someone “old” bumble their way through a conversation. I hear what words come out of my mouth and even I know that they make no sense but can’t seem to stop myself from wandering off into the briars and thorny patches, trying to disregard the look of complete and total confusion on the faces of those around me. I’ve always been a bit ADD but it’s now like I’m ADD in slow motion. Yikes.
I look at my skin a lot, marveling at the changes produced by my decreasing hormones and wondering why I have more skin all of a sudden? And how on earth did my cheeks end up near my chin? It’s actually kind of fascinating. I feel like I am looking at someone else’s body, a body I once knew very well but which changes from day to day, turning into some alien 50+ form. Of course, I am talking about changes that would appear microscopic to others, but don’t we always see ourselves in a magnified manner?
Time has changed as well, and how I enjoy my time has shifted. I take longer to do things, but I enjoy doing them more. I am more grateful that I can still accomplish things like stacking wood, gardening, welding, working out and walking the dogs and I realize that the enjoyment of all of these tasks is what life is about. Yes, life is short. Does that mean I have to rush to do everything or should I slow down to enjoy what I like to do? I also am better at deciding whether I really want to do something, whether it’s worth my time and energy. Sometimes I say no, and am happy that I have more time to enjoy the things I really like. That doesn’t mean I have stopped trying new things, it just means that I am quicker to come to a judgement about whether I really like it or not. This includes finding people I like to spend time with, who feed me emotionally and intellectually. People who suck my energy out through a straw are now left out of my life.
Speaking of which, my energy level has definitely dropped over the last couple of years. I can’t blame this one entirely on the half century mark. Other factors like mental health, hormonal changes and medications contribute to my general malaise. It’s just a crap shoot as to whether I can get through a day from morning to night without wanting to go lie down. But on the days that I go straight through the day, I am still quite productive.
So all of this goes through my mind as I try to figure out what my professional life will look like après 50. What do I put my energy into, how much do I rush to get something done? What is my goal; to enjoy creating or to put my work out into the world and make money? Do I have time and energy to do both? Do I really want to be a famous crazy lady sculptor or just an unknown crazy lady sculptor? Do I have the wherewithal to walk through the forest and not get distracted by the sunshine hitting the leaves on the ground or the beautiful spiderwebs glistening in the breeze? These are all questions that I must ask myself and soon because, after all, tempus fugit…