Carpe Diem

Well, hello my darlings :) I have missed you all.. not that YOU have gone anywhere of course.. I have spent the last month of summer having.. I don't know, a bit of a mid-life crisis? ('That means you will die when you are 86,' declares Posy, who has a literal mind. She is now writing a list of the things she would like to inherit when I die. I am now going to move myself and my laptop to somewhere Posy can't read over my shoulder. To think we actually WANT our children to learn to read...)

A very gentle mid-life crisis I might add. I did not buy a fast red car or have cosmetic surgery. I spent hours every fine day sitting in my garden chair under the pear tree, drinking tea and gazing at clouds. Sometimes I read a nice book. I didn't go anywhere, do anything, look at the internet. This wasn't a planned sabbatical, but like most things in my life, just happened. I relived the past, took out some regrets, bad choices, moments not well lived, failures of kindness. I grieved over them, folded them carefully in lavender and put them back on the shelf. They are, after all, important markers in a life well-lived. Cautionary tales as it were. I have contemplated the future. Thought about risks I might take. Been quite afraid. After all, as Posy noted, my life is more than likely half gone. When is it, exactly, that those first whispers of the cold truth of mortality really begin to echo with such insistent certainty among the chattering byways of our minds?

For me, only recently. That certain knowledge that we are indeed all travelling towards death does creep up slowly. The young truly are immortal. I have taken some time to grieve a little for my heedless youth. I don't want to be young again, it is a bittersweet condition, after all. But in order to go on without regret you do have to let go of what went before, and letting go always comes with a little, or a lot, of grief, some sadness, and also fear of what lies ahead. So, it has been a season of contemplation, this moving into autumn, a change of weather, a change of direction, some sadness, but also, a tiny stirring of excitement. Because, with the certainty of death comes a certain measure of recklessness. After all, if we are going to die, then what do we have to lose? The risks are all the more worth taking. Is this then, the secret of the power and energy that fuels the second half of our lives?


Anonymous said…
Oh Jo, you put it so well, especially the imagery in dealing with moments of regret or those that don't show us at our best. Truly markers of a well-rounded life and one that shows critical self-reflection.

I too have been dealing with mortality of others, and my own. When you no longer think you will go on forever, you start winnowing out what is not important from what is.

It is amazing how many people say that my job is so important to me and I would be bored not working, when I say I think I will retire early. What image of me am I projecting? I know I wouldn't be bored. I JUST KNOW the job isn't my defining character. I know I want more time to breath, reflect, think. More quiet and slow time.

Anyway, it is good to have you back. And I hope your time of contemplation was fruitful and restorative.
Anonymous said…
I can't remember my heedless youth, it all seems so long ago. Not entirely sure about the reckless thing but I certainly contemplate the consequences of my actions a whole lot more now (mostly because they are all coming home to roost). You might have spent pensive hours ruminating over a cuppa but you couldn't have picked a much nicer place to do it :). Welcome to middle age :)
GretchenJoanna said…
As I've gotten older (way ahead of you) I notice a feeling of freedom that comes from not worrying about what other people think. That feels more youthful to me than the other way around.

btw, if you want to keep me on your blogroll you might update the feed to my new blog so it won't look like I am also on sabbatical :-)
Unknown said…
Welcome back Jo. I have missed you. Did i miss doing something when i turned 50 the other day? Was i suppose to be contemplative and introspective? I think i was actually too busy chasing my tail to stop and take the time to do so. Perhaps when im 60 ill remember to do it. So for now i just remind myself to keep breathing in and out and in and out and in.....

Oh, now that ive had these 2 minutes to think about it i can say that my mantra for life is that FORGIVENESS IS FOR ONESELF, NOT THE OTHER PERSON. So that's what i've decided to do. Forgiven everyone most of all myself so that my spirit does indeed feel lighter and brighter.

Lynda X
Tammy said…
So nice to have you back. You seem so well rested!

I made the middle aged realization a couple years ago. I was fine with it. I wouldn't want to be 20 again. I am in such a better place now than I was back then.

I am fully appreciating my current age, and thankful that my vision getting blurrier means that I'm not seeing those line deepen on my face. It's like a built in soft focus lens. Nature is kind that way!
Jen's Busy Days said…
Jo, It would have been nice to just reflect a little. I think I must have done that last year sometime. This year I feel like I am hurling myself into the next stage with gay abandon. I am looking forward to what I will be able to achieve with the more mature outlook I have now. And I didn't miss out on being mum while I pursued my interests first. I have loved being mum but it is so nice to beyond those hazy tired dragging baby and toddler days. By the way got 90% on each of my 4 Academic Writing assessments. Yay me! Maybe I do still have some brain cells left for these later years. Good luck with your thinking about present, past and future. Do keep us in the loop.

Best wishes
Jen in NSW
Unknown said…
PS - I could certainly waste a few hours in one of those chairs under that tree. Reading paradise.
Jo said…
Thank you all, my lovies, yes, who wants to be young again? And Lynda, yes, definitely the forgiving yourself one, why is it so hard?
Linda said…
Welcome back. I've missed your blogs. Hope you now go on "Onward and upward" which was my house motto at school.
Anonymous said…
You couldn't pay me to be young again. My youth and early adult years were not easy emotionally but I feel like I am truly coming into my own these day. I've found what makes me tick and finding joy and happiness in life and one can ask for no more than to be happy. :)
I've been facing mortality of late too. At the age of 92 my Nanna passed away. The last of my grandparents and the last of her generation. It was a sobering thought to realise I was no longer the 3rd generation (grandchildren) but the 2nd one (parents). And I have to say that for the first time ever I fear death. Not because it's got scary but because it's suddenly seeming a lot closer and I have far too much to do and the time left suddenly appears much shorter. I think I need some time on those gorgeous chairs to enjoy this glorious autumnal weather and to find that peace you have found.
Welcome back too. You have been missed. :)
Anonymous said…
I think about these things, too...recently I was thinking I'll only be able to make so many vacation trips and read so many books and see so many movies. Life seems more finite. I am past middle age now (unless I live to be 100). I think about how many good, active, healthy years I will have. Strangely, it doesn't feel limiting or sad. It makes me want to do more while I can.
Kristen Johns said…
Hello Jo,
I've been reading your blog for a long time now, without a whisper or a comment, but I wanted to tell you that the honesty and humour in your writing have really brightened me up. It seems that we're in a similar phase of life, just on other sides of the world (I'm in Canada). I've been doing my share of sitting under fruit trees (I have apple) and gazing at the clouds, mixed with getting crazy busy to push through it all. I don't have any answers for you, just wanted to say you're not alone :)
I'm turning 50 next month, so it has been a contemplative time for me as well. Regrets, I have a few. But about a month or so ago I was able to let a few of them go. When we're young, we have such a limited skill set, and we are so, so stupid. At least I was. I think doing stupid things when you're young, if you grow old and smart enough to regret them later, is actually good. It keeps you humble, reminds you to treat people better (to make up for how badly you treated some people back in the day), and makes you feel good about being old and not so stupid!

Jo said…
Linda, yes, onward and upward, and Jessie and Dar, yes, that sense of having to fit so much in... I feel like I want to do it all.
Kristen, thank you so much. It is extraordinary and magical to know that you are sitting under your apple tree in Canada thinking about the things that I am thinking about.. I took a peek at your blog, and your artwork, oh my..
Frances. Yes. I do not exactly blame myself for some of the things I chose to do as a young person, any more than I would blame my kids.. but I do shake my head and ask, 'What were you THINKING?' I do wonder about my decisions now, too, and how I will be judging them when I am 80.. it seems to me that when I am very old I will eventually be wise enough, having made all the mistakes, to finally be ready to be young..

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