You’ve Got Mail
Surprise, it’s not Avon Calling, it’s AARP knocking. Or rather, slipping insidiously into our mailboxes, as if on some predetermined cue card, letting us know that we have reached that dubious Rubicon of rage, the Half Century mark.
How the hell did this happen? Our first reaction is to toss, and toss again, and to keep tossing these now quickeningly frequent missives; as if by ignoring them we can halt the inexorable progression of our lives.
But we are in a netherworld from which the view is unclear, in either direction. We hate looking back, it reminds us what is now lost to us, past, fled too quickly into the realms of myth and mystery. And to look forward is more than frightening; who among us relishes our increasing age and infirmity and the indignities that we have seen befall our parents and grandparents as they aged, before our eyes, into oblivion.
When we were young, if we grew tired of our rented flat we would go in search of another………we moved…….…we upgraded………we expanded. When the view from where we were faded into familiarity, we simply moved on, in search of the better, the more, the new, the best.
As we grew older and planted some tenuous roots, we owned our first homes. As we outgrew them either physically or emotionally, we again looked around, saw what struck out next fancy, and moved forward, up, bigger, more.…..….again, as Jackson Browne so melodically told us; “…moving further on…..”
Now we are settled, adult, kids gone, big houses in the past, our needs are simpler, our space and needs less demanding. We have right-sized ourselves as social construct dictates we should at our age. We have what we need and we need less than what we have, undoubtedly.
And then, along comes AARP telling us to re-invent ourselves; Life Reimagined, that’s their new jaunty push for the over 50 set that we now fall in amongst.
But here’s the catch.
Our bodies now betray our mind’s ability to do that reinvention that we are so desperately seeking to attain. We have worked all our lives to get to a point where we can take a deep breath, look around the wide world and see what percolates up for a new adventure, a next career, a mindful entertainment. We have the time, the resources, the aching will…………but we also are busy carting around our aching bodies which protest and reject us at every turn as we fitfully start out on each of the new paths that appear before us. Looking entirely enticing and alluring, yet requiring a greater degree of energy that we had previously remembered, each alteration of course now is more demanding and requires greater outputs of both the physical and mental facilities.
I cry False Advertising.
What we really need is to absorb the lessons AARP so fervently wants us to learn in our dotage when we are still young and able-bodied enough to put them to good use. Youth is wasted on the young; a truer axiom was never uttered.
What is needed is a forward-looking class taught by backward-leaning teacher. Someone to instill in the energetic young of today’s world of possibilities the pause that they need to take to imagine their lives as they stretch out in front of them. Teach possibilities. Teach potentials. Teach realities. Teach truth.
How many of us are having exactly the same conversations at every dinner party and with every friend of a certain age………that age being our age?
My hip is bad
My foot is killing me
My back is shot
My………….fill in the failing body part
It is the ultimate irony that now that we have the time and the interest, we don’t have the physical stamina to tackle all those fascinating and fun things that have waited out there tantalizingly tempting us for decades. If our kids used this type of an excuse in grade school we would never, ever, have believed them. Shirkers. Lay-abouts. Lazy. We’d have decried their boredom.
And so, with a resignment only garnered from experience, we gird our loins, hitch up our braces and elastic bands and buckles, and stumble forward keeping care to not really stumble or there’s a hip replacement in our near future. In reality, those hips have probably already been replaced, more than once, and because they’re “like new” our other parts, whether through jealousy or simple re-alignment related issues, groan and protest and flare and inflame for their fair share of the Medicare dollars that they feel they deserve and for which we, their unwilling foils, spend our days making appointments; for doctors, physician’s assistants (doctors-light), MRIs,
“Do you have any metal objects implanted in your body?”
“Have you looked at my medical file? The one that fills a full gig of memory on your computer? Just key in ‘XRay’ and see what pops up. Don’t ask me that again, Tammy, I talk to you………every other week.”
physical therapists. And that’s just the traditional medical milieu.
Let us not give short shrift to the massage therapists, yoga instructors, Reike practitioners, psychic alignment shamans, crystal healers, and copper band Internet sellers. They, too, take up a significant amount of our time, money, and quite frankly, the verve that I was planning on devoting to hiking the Appalachian Trail, skydiving the wine country and swimming with sharks…….oh wait……I may have that last one covered…….Insurance Companies may be equatable here. But I digress.
As a youthful student, I used to relish “calling in dead” for a class or a shift and cutting out to sail, beach, or play. As a less-than-youthful senior, I decry when I have to, for medical reasons mostly, call off one of the many volunteer gigs I have committed to. It riles me no end that my body betrays my intensions to a degree that I find beyond irritating, infuriating.
You know you have reached “an age” when you automatically check the “yes, I’d like the travel insurance” with that ticket purchase because, more than once already, you’ve had to avail yourself of the hassle-ridden, change my flight adventure…and paid through the nose for the privilege of doing it. Suddenly, $25.00 seems a very reasonable price to pay to not have to worry when that broken ankle or unexpected gall bladder op impinges on a perfectly plotted and planned holiday.
And whose carry-on contains more prescriptions than prophylactics? When did “Don’t leave home without it?” come to mean Imodium AND Ex-Lax?
When did carefree become careful?
I believe AARP has that answered.