The two guys in the picture above are local guys I believe. I saw them at a local Farmer’s Market playing primarily the same measures of music over and over. The tune was catchy and never irritating. Another older man nearby was selling items of clothing and creative things he had designed and created; he actually wore some of the things he made although they were more likely for women than men. I had first met this man in the yarn department of my one of my favorite craft stores. He was very friendly and helpful in the store, so I was interested in his creations at the market.
What makes two men feel fine playing the same measures of music over and over in a small area such as a Farmer’s Market and another guy feel entirely comfortable selling and wearing women’s attire, but making no gesture to be a woman as a transgender person might?
Age Has Privileges
I worked as a home health aid for a few years, and one woman asked me if I thought age had privileges. I hadn’t thought about it before and admitted it to her. She said she felt it was time, to be honest with people about her feelings. I told her I thought she should be too. I had no idea she was going to vent to her daughter-in-law about some things her parents had done to upset my client many years ago.
Maybe the privilege of aging is we don’t worry what others think about us anymore. If we like the music we play and its catchy to us, we should share it with others. If we are very talented in creating unusual, but lovely things for women and we are so proud of them we want to wear them, we should.
Unless we make efforts to be among people, we can become kind of reclusive in our old age. Reclusiveness has its drawbacks for sure, but one nice thing about it is getting out of the dog-eat-dog world of competition and pleasing bosses or peers. Young people are often thought to go in search of self, believing they have to get away from where people know them because they feel defined by those relationships and circumstances. They feel like if they go away, maybe even far away they will be better equipped to find their most authentic self. Maybe. So often though as we come out of the parent/child relationship, we are so used to seeking the approval of our parents or teachers or profs we take that attitude with us. So that the idiom is right: ”no matter where I go there I am.” Same stuckness, just a different accent.
What Does It Take?
Maybe it takes some failures, some hard knocks, some huge mistakes and regrets to know our self. Perhaps we have to experience some trials in life to know what we are made of. Possibly it is in the looking back and seeing our failures and our strengths, feeling some regret and trying not to feel them that we get a real picture of who we are. In the time we have to reflect on the good, bad and the in-between we discover who we are. We can see our life a little clearer with reflection. We can make our judgments about our self without the pressure of comparison or competition. We can be real and not feel guilty. We can explore our interests and preferences unrestricted by schedules or stress. I hope if you have a partner in life, that partner will encourage you as they too discover their interests and favorites.
As we age and become a little more reclusive than we have been in the past, the walls can seem to close in on us, but there is a bright spot, a shining light of definition on our life. A chance to see the meaning of who we are and what we offer.
I believe in God. I believe He has given me purpose and a calling that was mine all this time. Have I accomplished it? I don’t think so. Have I defined it? Yes. I took what I felt was my calling and purpose and laid them out, so to speak, before God. I prayed, “Now what? What am I suppose to do with my writing and knitting for charities? How do I step more fully into the person you created me to be?” Then I sat for about 20 minutes in silence. I didn’t journal; I didn’t daydream. I didn’t pray anymore. At the end of 20 minutes, I had a new outlook and a new determination to make a difference with the life I have left…..twenty more years possibly.
Finding Self Without Leaving
If you believe in God, try this exercise. You will find meaning and desire for more of life. If you don’t believe in God, I will assume you have a good reason, but I don’t understand what it could be.
- Reflect on your life
- Find a thread of purpose running through it. (what common theme do you see? Interests, pursuits, activities)
- Pray and ask God if your calling in like is found in the thread you find running through your life
- Be silent for a while and see if you don’t hear God’s voice
- Then lay what you heard before God and tell Him you don’t know what to do with what you heard. Be silent for at least 20 minutes. See what happens and write it down, so you don’t forget. You know how we old folks are!