I see the world through colors. Colors affect me viscerally. Colors touch my brain, my skin, my soul. As a young child, my Father, who was an artist, musician and writer, introduced me to the world through art, music and words and those early ingrained overtures have been much of who I have always been and still am today. I believe it is why I see getting older through a rainbow of hues.
It’s also like something my eighth grade English teacher once told me: “Make a decision like it’s on your naked skin; if it itches like wool then it’s a bad decision; if it feels like silk, then it’s a good decision.” Basically, it’s a visceral experience.
These days decision making for me is more about the visceral reaction than what my brain concludes. I’m realizing that my aging is being led and seen through a process of aesthetics, and as Webster, or actually Microsoft Word describes, “The way something looks, how pleasing it is, an idea of what is beautiful or artistic.” Yes, that is how my aging process is taking its course, mainly because I see that all my really big decisions in life are behind me and my up-coming choices are of a different nature.
And I bring this subject up because I’ve been thinking about “the pleasures of aging” vs all the “negatives of aging.” So many conversations with peers are about the sadness of medical issues, loosing family and friends, the chaos of our government, depleting funds, concerns with how children and families have changed, no worthwhile reasons to get out of bed: all the worries that face Baby Boomers that in the past were always about the others, the OLDER PEOPLE, THE ELDERS of our family and NOW WE ARE THE OLDER PEOPLE, THE ELDERS! How did that happen? And now we have the anxieties that we once overheard the elders kvetch about!
The choice of what college to attend, a mate, how many children to have, to divorce or not to divorce, to leave Los Angeles and move to the Bay Area or not, those biggies are behind me and the decisions I make now are more about what I WANT without having to figure out how the consequences of my choices directly affect those closest to me. This may not be for every Baby Boomer right now but it is where I am in my life. And as a single parent for over 35 years, it is a shock to the system to realize that I get to think about my wants and desires, what I want to do or what movie I want to see and what color I want to paint each room! It is a change not to have to consult with anyone else (I am single so my choices are mine and would, of course, be shared if I had a significant other.) So the good news is I see making my own CHOICES and DECISIONS as a fiery bright light in my life and the color RED!!
Having the opportunity for more EDUCATION, to attend lectures and classes on subjects of interest, time to read, moments to watch PBS and the History Channel, write a memoir, catch-up on the news of the day: YELLOW like sunshine that wakes me up!
CONNECTING THE DOTS: Though I still work, with my extra time, I find my mind going back to all my decisions over the years and I feel a thread is moving throughout my personal history and weaving the story together. I see the blueprint, the patterns, I see a consistency that has led me to today on this serendipitous journey I call my life. This is definitely the color of OMBRE’—hues and tones that shade into each other.
PRIORITIES: With aging comes more time to assemble the list of what’s most important. With a less hurried life, I can do what I’ve never had time to do before—writing a novel, cooking classes, taking a train across country, visiting less traveled places—completing that bucket list! Or maybe the simpler pleasures of sharing my stories with my kids and grandkids. The category is endless for what really matters. This is the color of GREEN—as in go!
And FAITH, G-D: So much more time to reflect on my Jewish up-bringing, my Jewish education and my involvement in the Jewish community. Getting older allows me more time for the plans I have to inspire my grandkids with their Judaism and how, as a family, we continue the life-cycle of our history, heritage and culture from generation to generation. As pure as snow, as brilliant as a full moon and as innocent as the eyes of a newborn baby—that’s the color of WHITE!
All these colors become my personal rainbow that make up my inner freedoms at this stage in my life. As I have learned over the years, “Don’t get too comfortable and make plans because we all know G-d will take that opportunity to laugh at us,” “Never say never,” and my most favorite, “The only constant thing in life is change.” All of this means, for me, is to be open to the possibility that my pallet may change. And that’s ok because I only see my most favorite color in POSSIBILITY which is HOT PINK!
I recommend we all take time to consider “the pleasures of aging” vs all the “negatives of aging” by finding our personal paint brush, canvas and pallet. What a vibrant thought!
PS….Please notice I titled this piece, “The Colors of Growing OLDER” and NOT “The Colors of Growing OLD!”