Thursday, May 31, 2007

Life After Mid-Life

Fear tells you, "I want to make you safe."
Love says: "You are safe."
- Pat Rodegast, Emmanuel's Book II

In my first blog posted five months ago, I whined about the prospect of growing old infirm, unneeded, lonely.

I equated retirement with: waking up without purpose, walks without direction, lunch breaks uninterrupted, and a nest chirpless, cheerless.

Left out in that catalogue of fears were more blatant ones. Of a body gone to pot. Of parts in need of overhaul or replacement. Of BP, sugar, cholesterol levels shooting up and energy and mental faculties slowing down.

My sister, a lawyer, died 10 months after she retired. Technically, it was a conspiracy of diabetes, asthma, hypertension and depression that did her in. But virtually, she stopped the clock herself with her own obstinate refusal to live empty days with husband gone, work done, and children flown from the coop.

I had cause to be paranoid, hadn’t I?

Lately, I am surprised I have lost some of these fears. How?

Flippantly I tell people it must be this blogging thingie. When one has two or three sites to manage and 30 to 40 people in one’s blogging community to visit twice a week – on top of 8-5 work and demanding family and social life – how can one find time to brood?

Half-seriously, it could be blogging with its requisite introspection that has put me in touch with higher wisdom. It tells me that without worrying I would have arrived exactly where I am now -- and more pleasantly.

Half-seriously, too, it could be blogging -- and its requisite raising of external awareness -- that has made me watch out for seniors who seemed to have found the secret to growing old, productive, and happy.

There is evidence to show creative juices need not dry up with age.

Who hasn’t heard of Anne Mary Robertson, aka Grandma Moses, who taught herself to paint at 70 plus? She lived to be 100 and for 30 years the toast of American folk art! Martha Graham danced well into her 70s and continued to choreograph 20 years more. Giuseppe Verdi wrote his last opus eight months shy of his 80th birthday.

We have local, if more modest, counterparts around:

M, scion of a restaurant chain-owning family, took an MA in literature at age 60. She now teaches English lit – the true passion she earlier pushed aside to meet family expectations to help with business. Nanay Curing, at 80 plus, still tends her own small grocery store in BF Paranaque. She is incidentally, the mom of Senator Manny Villar. R, a blogger-buddy you might know, enrolled in Law school at 50 something, after teaching high school for 20 years. Soon, she would be the attorney she has always dreamt to be.

And ... A, another blogger you might also know, snorkeled for first time -- for the big deal it's worth -- at age, hmmm , see for yourself.

Note: Top photo coutesy of stockxpert. Other photos are of some of A's children.


snglguy said...

Ahh, what would our world be without this thing called, a Blog?

For a semi-hermitic, forty-something guy like yours truly, a blog is the closest thing to a social life, outside of the real world.

lady cess said...

hahaha! natawa ako sa sinabi mo why blogging retirees have no time to brood. but you know, i agree with you. blogging is one of the reasons why im still sane as a sahm. and true,creative juices and iq levels need not vanish just bec im not employed full time (your statement, ni-rephrase ko lang ) :)
cheers to your first snorkel. many more to come.

Gina said...

Anna- would I be right in guessing that's you with a daughter in the pic?

We can never be too old to do something (or be something) for the first time, di ba? In my case naman, I hope I get to be 'something' before I turn 41 ano? You know what I mean, Mdme F_ _ _ _ _ _ _y goddess ;) I need the osmotic touch!

feng said...

hi Annamanila. it was my first time to comment here and i took the courage. you see, i'm an avid fan of yours. i really love how you write. very creative and very prolific.

i definitely agree with you as to saying that blogging is keeping you so so sane. it's a form of therapy right?

must I say that truly admire people like you, who, even at their near retirement or at retirement, are still open to learning new things no matter how geeky these are. i guess, it's the mantra of living life to the fullest, till our dear Creator says we stop. :)

SexyMom said...

finally! finally!, one even with Annamanila. you seem to have enjoyed snorkeiing.

am coming back to re-read the whole post for another comment.

happy weekend!

sheilamarie said...

is that you snorkling, anna?! oh wow! that is great!!! you should try other diving/snorkling spots as well. bohol, palawan, etc.

you are as old as you feel. if you think you are young, then the rest will follow! look at me, 33 going on 18! LOL!

i totally agree with what you wrote about blogging. in my case, with our being isolated here, this is my life line. i was not meant to live without being able to interact with other people. i may be a loner, but it has it's limits! LOL!

p.s. have you tried ballroom dancing? my mom was still dancing boogie and cha-cha at the age of 79 =D and her brother is still playing tennis at the age of 85! and my dad? whew! you're lucky if you can catch him at home =P still doing crossword puzzles to keep the mind sharp

diogenes said...

I would want to spend my old days in the company of young faces like I find here in this post. Hi youngg people, do you mind. I will be a good company; honest.

BTW, I though the the lady in the pic at bottom is holding a stick ;-) But of course I was wroong. There is some rope in the bakground, is that it.

Nice post as usual.

myepinoy said...

Everytime I read a post about life or mid-lfe, i always check the words being used to describe the passing of time specifically growing old and getting old.

My father told me to use the words growing old rather than getting old. He said that growing old means you mature completely as a human being and as a person(wiser, gained more wisdom, more loving, understanding, etc.).On the other hand, getting old means you just mature physically and that is it.

So, i am glad that you used "growing old".

My comment might not be that enlightening so here are some from people with great minds:

by Marie Curie: Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.

by King Whitney: Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind. To the fearful it is threatening because it means that things may get worse. To the hopeful it is encouraging because things may get better. To the confident it is inspiring because the challenge exists to make things better.

the last but not the least which i believe explains the actions of Anne, Martha,Giuseppe, M, Nanay Curing, and everyone you mentioned here:

W. Somerset Maugham: When I was young I was amazed at Plutarch's statement that the elder Cato began at the age of eighty to learn Greek. I am amazed no longer. Old age is ready to undertake tasks that youth shirked because they would take too long.

Parang kilala ko si R. ha ha.

chateau said...

Oooh, so you posted them pictures! Mukhang nag enjoy kayo!
I might need to teach my dad to blog, as he has plenty of time to brood LOL.
Very nice half-serious thoughts. Will have to go back and reread to digest them :)

gibbs cadiz said...

when i reach my own retirement years, anna, i wanna live my life the way you're living yours now. you and your blog are such inspirations. and you are such a kick-ass writer. rock on, lady! :)

mitsuru said...

A lady friend once gave me a coffee mug with this inscriptions “ life's a bitch then you die.”

And I credit her for the way I live my life now-- always happy-go-lucky. ha-ha :)

there was this very beautiful poem I’ve read a long time ago in Reader's Digest, the title of which escapes me but it was very popular with old Japanese businessmen then, one line I did remember though,

"you can be old at 21 or you may die young at 81.”

Abaniko said...

I'm afraid your fears have no basis, Annamanila. How could you grow old infirm, unneeded and lonely when you engage in several activities (like snorkeling?) and you're surrounded by love as seen in the pics. Plus there's Scrabble to make you busier. :)

lazarus said...

I'm not sure what I'd do in my senior moments. But travel and tending my own farm are in my mind.

SASSY MOM said...

You know you're very talented and Im really a fan.

I see you're really enjoying retirement.

Leah said... you are adventurous too, trying snorkeling for the first time. That's great. So can you now tick-off one thing in your list "Do something you've never dared to do before" ?

You write in grace and I just love reading your post. Galing.

Cheers to blogging!

kathy said...

Anna, I could only hope that when I get to that ripe old age, I would still have that appetite for adventures and zest for life like you do now. Blessing yan! What a great opportunity to experience something new together with your daughter!

julie said...

Who said something about getting old? Age is just numbers representing the years we have been alive. The true age of a person is not reflected in the number but in the wealth of experiences and learning one has acquired. If we confine ourselves in one corner, brooding about anything that comes to mind, we let ourselves rot. But if we find an outlet like blogging (though this increases the middle-body girth), meeting new friends, developing new hobbies, we let our thoughts and imaginations fly. We go to where the tide brings us, especially to places where we can "bloom" anew.

Btw, there is a teacher who hasn't stopped teaching. I just forgot her name. She is in her 70s or so.

Have a great week Annamanila. We missed you during the PMN lunch. :)

auee said...

Blogging saved a number of us, I'm trying to convince a friend to join. He too needs the "distracion".

I love snorkelling! Did you enjoy it?

Karl said...

I love the down to up perspective - meaning that life can be looked at as slowing down and ending or as a way to tackle new adventures.

You have a unique voice, don't stop blogging because I look forward to reading more.

Belle TH said...

anna, nice to see you in the picture along with your family. you look great! please continue doing the things that you love doing. and who knows, you may even try bungee jumping or ride a Harley next.

dimaks said...

After all, its the passion and dedication to reach for the things you want.. no matter what :)

Princess said...

As one of my cousins told me the last time I saw her, "ganito pala ang tumatanda - sa idad lang at hindi sa diwa." I think she's telling the truth. Thanks for making me feel that it is alright to retire and get old, Anna!!!

Toe said...

You are A, aren't you? Congratulations on learning how to snorkel. Now, that you've retired, there are so many things you could do without having to worry about the tedious things that young people have to worry about. I, myself, want to retire na... hehe... more time to blog. :) Great looking kids, you have Annamanila! :)

niceheart said...

Wow! Snorkeling! Good for you!

What lovely children you have Miss A.

I've heard or read somewhere that the key to living longer is keeping oneself busy. Here, I know people who volunteer their duties to different organizations after they retire.

Gypsy said...

Good on you, Anna! I guess in the end it boils down to our love (or no-love) for life. And you, obviously love it and celebrate it! Cheers to you and all those you mentioned who have discovered their second wind.:)

marie said...

This entry is very inspiring.I'm nearing the midlife thingie and i't feels kinda depressing but I know life is how you make it.

midnight rainbow said...

I am nowhere near retirement but blogging definitely helped me keep my sanity during major changes in my life.

Congratulations on your snorkelling adventure! I am so inspired! :)

major tom said...

Abaniko is right, such fear is entirely unfounded; with a great writer like you, there would always be something else to do...

Heart of Rachel said...

Hi Anna. It's nice to see you and your family having a wonderful time. It must have felt good to try snorkeling for the first time. A memorable first.

I'm glad that blogging has brought additional meaning to your life. I'm also thankful that I've discovered blogging. It's something I always look forward to. Like an excited child with the promise of candy, I check my blog for comments almost everyday.

exskindiver said...

Dear Annamanila,
I clicked on your picture for a close up and I just love the far-away/dreamy expression on your face.
It shows pure contentment.
Its funny too how your daughter looks familiar to me. She did not teach kindergarten at one point in her life did she?

Also, you are absolutely correct about blogging and its requisite introspection. Sometimes I feel that if more people blogged, psychiatrists would be out of work.
I'm just saying...

I don't want to fawn all over you but you are such a great writer.
I love your "quirky" interview.


rhodora said...

Anna! You went snorkeling! Good for you, my dear friend.

Wait a minute... sino si R, ha? hahaha!

febeth said...

In April, Maya Angelou was interviewed by Oprah on her 70+ birthday.

Oprah asked her what she thought of growing older.

And, there on television, she said it was "exciting." Regarding body changes, she said there were many, occurring every her breasts.

I think we must all appraoch growing old with a sense of humor,everyone grows old and its just a phase in our lives.

Karla said...

Hi, Anna! Found my way here through Chesca's blog. I've been bugging my dad (who wrote really well in his younger years) to blog because the world needs to know about his thoughts, I say. He's turning 60 next year and seems really excited about the idea. Will give him your URL. You're an inspiration! :)

Annamanila said...


Splendid .. i will help welcome your dad to this cool, kewl blog-a-day-world. Tell him I bet he'd gonna be hooked. :)

Loren said...

"without worrying I would have arrived exactly where I am now -- and more pleasantly."
Indeed. It's good to be reminded. Thanks!

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