I always recoil when anyone says, “at your age ….”, “It’s expected at your age…” or a diagnosis of “age-related”. to which I respond, “OK, but what would be causing this if I were young?” And then I have been able to find a satisfactory solution, usually on my own. Until recently.
I have reached a time in my life that is bringing perhaps an inkling of changes that are probably pretty close and maybe even here now, if I choose to acknowledge them.
I have a paint buddy that I met in 2014. We were immediately best friends and we’ve rarely done plein air painting or travel relative to paint workshops or paint outs, art shows, gallery trips without each other. I’ve grown close to her and consider her one of of my two best (nonfamily) friends. She is several years younger than me, I’m in my 80s and she in her 70s. She is still traveling internationally and has a higher level of energy.
I don’t want to hold her back from doing painting events, because I’m unable, knowing we can modify what and where we do some things together. She’s a lesson in loyalty and I realized yesterday that I need to make her feel comfortable with looking for a new paint buddy but first I have to work through my own feelings about this and at this moment I’m having a difficult time facing that. I’ll miss the very special times and making memories, our painting relationship, experiences and the closeness that goes with creating memories and just the fun of painting with her in situations that are highly unlikely to happen again. I imagine dynamics will change, proximity, time together will probably change and will our wonderful friendship change? I expect it to continue to be meaningful in other ways. We have a lot of fun memories.
Choosing is sometimes a little easier than being forced to let go so am trying to use that perspective to face the end of an era, a change caused by some new limitations in my life, and probably not in the too-distant-future, hers as well. Painting is my passion and still consumes my thoughts and time but in my studio now.
I’d like to, in fact, plan to travel to paint again and need to find my own comfort level. I have now and have always had an abhorrence, even an inability of feel that I’m being a burden to anyone. Now I’m faced with needing to deal with that and find a way to accept that it’s ok to ask for help or, with forewarning to my buddy, friends and family, of my less energetic self. I know that it could sometimes hold someone else back and concerned that I would make them uncomfortable and impatient. I have to remind myself that these are more likely my feelings – not theirs. Yikes! Admitting that I’m not the person I want to be or used to be? That I’ve become less? Again I have to remind myself that I’m more than my energy level. I have the same issue no matter when, where or who – I’ve always pushed through as much as possible but can no longer stretch myself. When I’ve hit the wall, I’m done and it’s often inconvenient to me and have a difficult time involving others in that.
I’ve been isolating, partly because much of the time I don’t have the wherewithal to leave my home, but also waiting for a time when I would be able to keep up comfortably. I finally realize that I’m going to have to admit to myself and others the possibility, in fact reality, that I have a new pace. I’m hoping – and quite sure they’ll understand, and that they also have a choice and can opt out of anything, no harm, no foul. Giving that “out” to them is easy for me to do and accept. I also need to accept the possibility that I may have to opt out last minute – and that’s difficult for me to accept ! No harm, no foul for me? Yikes!
Is slowing down such a bad thing? I suppose not. I still walk briskly and have a pretty sharp mind. It’s subtle changes in desires, actions and staying power. Maybe that is part of aging? Maybe not? I have a feeling that I’ve been in denial and those close to me already get and accept it. After all, I do have a head of white hair and that is hopefully associated with wisdom, discrimination and maturity – and slowing down. I think I need to concentrate on that description of my changes. I have loving family and friends around me who are eager to be together. That’s all that really matters. So what am I concerned about? Nothing serious going on here! Isn’t part of life just acceptance of constant changes?
Other changes in my life that were monumental and real life-changers at the time are now, as part of my past, remembered mostly with very little, if any, emotion. This change has been more insidious, occurring rather slowly and somehow immense and accepted with more resistance; I think because I am equating it to moving toward the end of life as I know it and that I love so much. But other changes were really no different? Yes! Because now I’m closer to the end of my life. Period! And I love my life! But I’ve milked it and am still having a wonderful time and I’m past my expiration date.
So just another change – really nothing new. Only what I decide to attach to it. Perspectives?
Self love, acceptance. Remember, Sharon! Self love, acceptance. And then Joy and Gratefulness!