MY GERONTOLOGICAL CLOCK IS TICKING! This is a thought that landed in my brain the other day, as thoughts are wont to do. Remember Marisa Tomei’s fabulous scene in My Cousin Vinny? “My biological clock is ticking like this…!” [Cue stamping foot]. Well, I kind of relate, because I hear some ticking somewhere and it’s really getting on my last nerve.
Now of course this is very aspiritual and non-mindful of me. I mean Eckhardt Tolle writes in his book, The Power of Now, that “Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion.” So what am I getting all worked up for? Well, I’ll tell ya, it’s because I have drunk a little bit too much of that Kool-Aid sold by our culture that says older people are living on borrowed time, can’t experience high levels of joy, and aren’t much to look at either. Ergo, says our culture, with every passing year (day, week, month) I am getting closer to oblivion — not necessarily death, but definitely social ostracization.
“The more you are focused on time — past and future — the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is,” opines Tolle. He was ten years younger than I am now when he wrote that, back in 1999. I wonder if he’s still buying it at age seventy-five. (Probably. He seems pretty committed to this whole Now thing). Fact is I’m mostly great at being in the Now, at being grateful for all I have, can do, and am exposed to. Why, just last week I was featured in my friend’s blog as an example of an athlete of a certain age who just keeps keepin’ on because I love the sport so much. And it’s true, being athletic serves me in many varied ways. Yet I confess that every time I feel a little tweak here or a tiny pinch there, I wonder, Is this it – is this when everything goes South for good?!
Seventy-year-old journalist Steve Lopez has been featuring stories about the over-sixty crowd in the LA Times of late. These folks surf, counsel their patiens, and drive well into their nineties (a good idea?- not sure about that one). I should feel seen and affirmed when reading these stories of the lively elders, but instead I can only wonder when the follow-up piece on so-and-so’s passing will be published. And don’t try to tell me I’m the only one who looks at the birth years in obituaries either, doing the math as to how many years I might have left.
Thing is, I just want to have fun. And I don’t really want to be someone’s inspiration either. I also don’t necessarily care if people think I look great “for my age”; and I’m not really interested in being held up as a model of fitness and joy (which I kinda am, truth be told). I just want to be another human wandering this earth, fighting for justice and drinking Chardonnay with the girls. Which I am, because that is the now and I’m pretty much in it. But sometimes I discover myself wandering towards the past, which apparently gives us our identity, according to Tolle. Or I might subconsciously launch myself into anticipation of the futuresometimes — which Tolle says brings us a “promise of salvation, of fulfillment, in whatever form.” But that’s not what I see when I look ahead.
What I see obviously doesn’t exist, so instead I am merely imagining what has existed for others. I’ll think of all the old people I have known and know. It is such a blessing to have intergenerational relationships, and it’s something our society has lost touch with for numerous reasons. For me, church has been a wonderful place to get to know old people – like eighties and nineties old. Which apparently is what I’ll be one day, God willing. Anyway, some of those folks are just staying home and watching a lot of TV really loud these days. (I know this because when I call they leave the TV blaring during the conversation). Others are being cared for by family members, still happy to be alive, sporting frocks from their glamorous pasts to church and special occasions. Then there are people in wheelchairs, and people who can’t hear anymore, and people who are sick, and those whose physical selves are in good shape but whose mental faculties have waned.
Ever since I was a kid I was scared of getting old. I would have dreams of being feeble and gray-haired (the latter never happening thanks to Surya Brasil Henna Cream Hair Color – Burgunday). I would wake up so scared. Why, who knows. Anyway, now I’m mostly fine, but once in a while I just lose all track of the Now and my mind overtakes me wherein I experience twinges of fear of the unknown. This emotional response, this pain, is my unconscious resistance to what is, writes Tolle. (Well, I mean he didn’t write me personally, I am simply extrapolating). Apparently I am resistant to aging.
So, that clock is ticking. But it’s not the same as the biological clock (which really doesn’t exist, of course, it’s just another construct for women to bend to). This gerontological clock (please credit me with coining this phrase — unless you know it’s already been used, then please tell me by whom!) sounds in my background once in a while, chiming loudly, You won’t be able to do that forever, or Next time it might be more serious and the like. I can mostly send those kinds of thoughts away, like fanciful baloons floating into the atmosphere (biodegradable, of course), but once in a while they just refuse to budge, and then I don’t feel so good.
What’s the answer? Oh, it’s so anti-climactic. Snap out of it! Obviously I’m supposed to just keep doing what I’m doing until I can’t — or don’t want to — do that thing anymore. So I’ll keep hanging with friends, playing my sports, drinking more wine than the daily recommendation, loving my kids, and traveling this earth. And then I won’t. And I have no idea what the won’t will look like, do I? So I’m just going to stay here in the Now with my mind right enough, at least, to type out these words in a coherent fashion such that someone else might actually enjoy reading them.