Middle Age, I Surrender
I stood in the checkout lane yesterday, getting groceries in anticipation of the polar vortex reclaiming the metro area. My eyes scanned the covers of magazines, trying to land on something of interest. I didn’t recognize any of the people on the covers. You know the jig is up when you realize that you’ve just been reading magazines for the coupons. It’s begun. I’m in a battle for personal relevancy, timely quipping and hip, in-the-know conversations at bus stops.
It isn’t the shape-shifting gravity of aging that gets me. I won’t whinge on about a drooping neckline or expanding belly or wrinkles happening as my body sinks into itself. I have never been at the top of the aesthetic food chain, so in that respect, I’ve come to terms with whatever my body feels it needs to do.
I’m still running, practicing martial arts, starting up ice skating again – I can still do most things that I want to do physically at the moment. I won’t go on about sneeze pees or random hair growth or receding gum lines. Really, none of that bothers me as much as it bemuses me, like some sort of corporeal circus. I’m just curious about what is going to happen next.
My memory and focus are still at my disposal since I’ve followed the “if it’s not written down, it doesn’t happen” rule most of my life. I’ve attained black belt list-making status and can still juggle a zillion tasks. I’m not depressed about the state of my life, trying to hook up with grade school crushes or getting myself injected with paralytics (yes, you may read judgment into that).
Overall, things are good and I have plenty for which to feel gratitude. And apparently it won’t be a heart attack that kills me, as my Toyota Prius will get the job done long before hereditary genes and poor lifestyle decisions wend their way through my system.
Over the last week, I read about thigh gaps, texting racists and more incidents of bad journalism. The corners of my brain began drying and curdling and prepared to lapse into manic humming as I try to hold on, try to engage. Information streams through my brain without getting processed, filling it until I am drowning, while inanities like Tweets bob up and down, detritus of a social media shipwreck. I made few comments on blogs last week, because it seemed that whatever the subject was, I managed to relate it to the sheer joy of comfortable socks.
I listen to the radio, but all the inane chitchat drips on my forehead, drop after torturous drop. Music sounds computer-generated, modified and inhuman. Men’s and women’s voices seem similarly reedy, melodramatic and too sensitive and precious to sink into my psyche. I play AC/DC to shake myself out of torpor. It may be misogynistic, incoherent screaming, but at least it doesn’t make me want to huddle up in a ball in the corner, weeping softly to myself.
I no longer care. I’m going back to the kiddie pool. Relevance was always a bit of a pipe dream anyway. I was never cool or hip or awesome, dude. I’ve always been a bit of an old lady – cautious, oblivious to the cutting edge and unfashionable. Growing older, I never imagined that the information age would cause me more angst than gravity.
Always hungry for knowledge, I’ve begun to recognize that while I continue to read indiscriminately, listen to music on the radio, try to understand what the hell people are talking about at proverbial water coolers, I’m quickly losing ground. I read and overhear just enough for my brain to check out. Pop culture lacks a depth that holds my attention, especially since the stars of the moment either look and act like 10-year-olds, octogenarian lotharios or cartoon caricatures with overinflated body parts.
I wandered between public library shelves yesterday, marveling at the sheer amount of knowledge available at my fingertips. Part of me mourns that I will never live long enough to take in even a small fraction. The potential for knowledge is pleasure to me, but like any pleasure, must be indulged with discretion, picking and choosing the when and the how and the what. The aftertaste counts. Is it satisfying or does it, like a diet soda, just make me feel hungrier?
I need complex ideas, rich words and sumptuous music and there is simply no more time to pay attention to fads or self-congratulatory awards shows or whatever it is the media has decided to be excited about for the next five minutes. I’m starting my apprenticeship for old lady-hood. I’ve got skills. And comfortable socks.