The trials and tribulations of a 66-year-old

I am on holiday, sitting looking at the sea which today is a deep, dark blue and is shining and calm. People are strolling along the beach. Honestly, the world looks perfect. I have nothing in particular that I ‘should’ be doing and, in my head, I am loving the lack of demands on my time. But some part of me feels restless still.

This is very common for me. The longing to do absolutely nothing conflicting with that driven part of me that wants to be active, useful, involved and busy. It’s a real internal battle. There’s quite a strong fear inside me of an elderly, lazy overweight blob with stiff knees and hips and nothing useful to do, who is just waiting for the chance to appear and take over my life.

I could read, write, watch DVDs, have more coffee – but oh, I surely ‘should’ move, walk, get fresh air. I could take a nap as I am so tired –  but oh, I may not sleep properly tonight if I do. I could have a little snack to cheer me up – but I’m trying to lose weight, aren’t I?

Even in my activities, there is a tug-of-war between putting in a lot of effort, or just getting by with the least time and effort. I could really ‘work it’ when I exercise – or perhaps I should take it easier and not risk sore muscles? My bridge playing is mediocre – I could study and practise – but, why bother? It’s just a game. I could write more regularly and with more direction. I need to put a book together, enter a competition, write an article for Starts at Sixty, but hey, writing is just for pleasure isn’t it? Does it matter when or what I write? I want to read more widely, more classic literature, books about writing, learn new things – but I just am so enjoying this novel at the moment. And so it goes…I think you may get my drift. I want to play the piano more, but never ‘find’ the time.

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And now I find the battle is also coming into my dealings with people. I have always liked socialising, chatting being involved. But now, I find myself often choosing none of these things and preferring to spend time on my own. As I constantly strive to be more loving, more tolerant, more compassionate and patient in my Third Age – as these are important values to me – I find myself feeling ever LESS tolerant of the whims and opinions of others I seem to actively like, and enjoy fewer and fewer people. Even a little social contact drains me of energy.

What on earth is going on here? Aren’t I supposed to become MORE certain with age – not less? Aren’t I supposed to be in the stage of equanimity and balance? A year or so ago, I ran a course for the U3 A called ‘Ageing Gratefully’. We discussed many of the above issues and we did some relaxation and affirmations too. It did seem that people pass through the stages of unrest – on to acceptance perhaps when a bit older.

I want to age with gratitude and with some grace. I would like to be a positive role model and a teacher to those younger than I. I want peace of mind and contentment. At the same time, I want to age loudly, riotously and disgracefully – never invisible, never unnoticed! Can I have it all? Please?

So, I am wondering – dear SAS readers, what your own experiences and thoughts might be? Do you share some of my struggles, or do I need to face the fact that I am a little strange and just deal with it? Is it a phase I am passing through, or is it a personality flaw that won’t go away?