Recently, my 80-plus-year-old dad was visiting with his brother, and the conversation quickly turned to health issues. What medications are you on? How’s your hearing? How’s your blood pressure? How’s your back? After the conversation progressed on this topic for about 15 minutes, Dad turned to me and said, “See, Dorian, what you’ll be talking about when you reach our age?”
Hopefully, my aches, pains and meds won’t be a big part of my conversation. Instead, I hope to keep a sense of humor and perspective on the challenges of aging, but to be involved fully in the world. To reach that goal means starting now.
Which brings me to my book group’s lastest read, “Someone Will Be with You Shortly: Notes From A Perfectly Imperfect Life” by Lisa Kogan. You may know Lisa from her regular column in O Magazine where she has developed a keen eye and descriptive style that provides a unique take on the world. In one of the book’s essays, Lisa (who is 49 years old) addresses the challenges of being a middle age woman. Noting that approximately 23 million women in the United States are age 40-49 while nearly 6,000 women turn 50 daily, the writer offered:
“We are a thoroughly undefined constituency. Some of us are bachelor girls, some of us are married and a lot of us have had trial separations that seemed to go just fine...at least for the husband (with the struggling rock band), who went on to become the ex-husband (with the thriving law practice). Many of us have demanding kids or aging parents or a little of each. We juggle jobs, mortgages, student loans, and medical treatments with low-fat diets, low-impact aerobics, low-grade depressions, a strong sense of irony, a dark sense of humor, and a full-bodied Cabernet.”
After bemoaning what she missed from when she was in her 20s, Lisa maintains that she’s now “delighted and relieved to be done with being young” and has realized that being middle-age is more about relearning lessons over and over again than new learning. Some of her lessons are funny ( ““Anyone who looks okay in mustard yellow will look even better not in mustard yellow.”) while others are pretty spot on (“What doesn’t kill me does not make me stronger. It makes me anxious, bitchy, and vulnerable . . . but nobody wants to see that embroidered on a pillow.”).
Needless to say, I laughed and laughed through the book. But now that I think more deeply about Kogan’s point of view, I am coming around to agreeing with Lisa that life at this age does involve a lot of revisiting earlier lessons. I just want to be able to learn these with the grace and sense of humor that Lisa displays in her writing.
I’d like to leave you with one last quote from Lisa’s book that seems to be really describe the women I know who are 45 and older: “Despite (or perhaps) because of all the coulda, woulda, shoulda moments that have come and gone, we’ve learned how to have a good laugh, an impromptu party, and an impure thought (or two) on a semiregular basis. We consider our options, our alternatives, our exit strategies. We take notes, we plan ahead, but we always leave room for serendipity. We are an entire generation of women who are making up our lives as we go along.”
Published On: September 09, 2010