Aging is a wild ride. The last couple of years—the years around turning 50—have brought so many changes. Some are worrisome, some are good.
In the worrisome category is how much harder things are physically. As if overnight, muscle mass was lost. I have a persistent, and sometimes debilitating, exhaustion. Menopause symptoms come and go. And, overall, things ache and creak more than any other time in life. But today's post is about something really beautiful I've noticed, as well.
I guess the best way to say it is that I'm more chill. I don't sweat stuff nearly as much as I did, say, two years ago. It's like the same triggers that are causing me to become physically more vulnerable are also helping me become emotionally more impervious.
This past week, some of that was put to the test. I rarely travel for business, and when I do it's just overnight to someplace within driving distance. But last week I had to go to Florida for four days. I can't even tell you all the anxieties that would have normally dredged up in me.
First, there's the thing of being without my dogs for four days. I had never been without them that long. Ever. Then there's the whole flying thing with making flights and getting through security and traversing airports. With my exhaustion issue, some days I'll be fine and other days walking through an airport would be extremely difficult. Then there's the anxiety of having someone else in my home for all those days, watching the dogs and poking about. And, even though my client is someone I've known for years, the institution she works for is new to me. So will people like me? Will I be a good fit? In that way, it was a little like an interview.
So, normally, I'd be all worked up over this trip. Dreading it, even. I'm a cold-weather person, so I wait for winter to arrive. Florida is hot and sweaty. Also, normally I'd be freaking out the night before, staying up until 2am packing and sleepless the rest of the night.
But none of that happened. In fact, in the days leading up to the trip, I was looking forward to it. I was looking forward, even, to leaving the dogs, because I thought it would be good for them to have a different caretaker (they love their dog sitter.) I was even excited about the warmer weather! Not just that, but I was packed days in advance. And, in the time leading up to the trip, instead of being a big ball of worry, I was a big ball of confidence and relaxation. WHAT HAD COME OVER ME???
In the end, everything went well. I had fun. The meetings, the place and the people were way beyond expectations. The flights went smoothly and, on the return trip, the middle seat was empty, giving this big person more room to spread out and feel comfortable. Even in my most critical moments, I couldn't have found anything untoward to comment on. It was just a pleasure. And, bonus, when I arrived home, my dogs were happy and my difficult baby seemed less manic than usual.
I wish I had known years ago that I didn't have to sweat everything. Maybe that's part of the hormonal changes of being in my 50s. But whatever it is that has changed within me, I wish I'd known about it sooner. Because you can sweat things and obsess on every detail and things can end up going smoothly. Or you can be chill and things can end up going smoothly. Things can also screw up whether you obsess or not, too. So all the stuff I used to put myself through was just wasted energy.
It's interesting that, as the physical prowess slips away, the emotional prowess seems to grow. At least that's what I'm experiencing. The physical is something I can work on and improve, though. I'm in worse shape than most people my age in those regards. But I have to say, it's nice to have that added peace of mind that I didn't have in my youth. It really helps when it comes time to cope with the floppy upper arms and wrinkles. And it's really nice, in general, for those voices in the head to quiet down.
And I know I'm not alone in this. You just don't care so much about crap as you get older. You're more chill. And you kind of have to be, because as other aspects of your being start to fall apart, you need to be stronger in the head to handle it.
Being human is a magical thing. When one thing exits, eventually something good always comes to take its place. It would be great to have it all. It would be great to have the body and strength of a 30 year old, the intelligence and memory of a 40 year old and the emotional command of a 50 year old, but that's not how it works. It's a heck of a lot better than everything falling apart with nothing beautiful to take its place, though. I've just had glimpses of this emotional and mental calm recently because of this trip. And it's like that is what the waves are bringing in as they usher out parts of my memory and eyes and knees. For someone who has lived inside their head for so much of their life, it's beginning to feel like I'm finally coming home.