Maybe it’s because I am well into my years that I pay more attention to those that are aging around me. Like trying on a suit and deciding how it fits and if you are comfortable in it.
I see others struggling with the same things I am. Physically, I’m not the guy I used to be. While I once became frustrated if one of my parts didn’t work perfectly, today I am happy if enough of them work for me to be able to drive off the lot. Begrudgingly and slowly I am making mental concessions to my age.
Psychologically, I am still strong, finding the best of what my life has to offer. A lot of that Iattribute to my wife, who for 50 plus years has shared that which has impacted our lives together. Oh sure, we grouse at each other and spend more time trying to correct each others faults then we do appreciating the virtues that attracted us to each other in the first place. However, our relationship at this point is as comfortable and dependable as an old pair of slippers. The bond is something that is just there and we don’t give much if any thought to it ever changing. It doesn’t occur to us that we have so much more than most.
I see around me those that have been left to complete the journey alone and how it has changed them. Outwardly, they look and, for the most part, act the same. But inside, there is an empty place that is no longer nurtured, hidden from view, but sneaking out from time to time in casual conversation. Perhaps that is why we tend to hold our memories a little more tightly, polishing them frequently to increase their value.
I can’t imagine what it would be like to be alone. Too many years as half of a team I guess. Having worked out the rough spots several years ago, we now operate independently but cohesively, instinctively knowing what the other is going to do or think. There is comfort in that.
I suspect the material changes, while important, probably pale in comparison to the emotional ones. Suddenly all the decisions are yours and, although that is something you always thought you wanted, you find you are uncomfortable in the role. You no longer have that person that knows you as well as you know yourself. Who knows the right things to say and when to say them. The one that strokes your ego and makes you feel like you have something to offer. Someone to whom you are important.
I guess, as with all things, there is the good and the bad to walking alone. The good is that you can do anything you want and no one cares. The bad is that you can do anything you want and no one cares.
Originally published September 2012