When I began my blog, I thought I’d write about the truest thing of myself I could think of -- that I was growing old, miserable, and afraid.
My first blog pieces rankled with pre-retirement jitters. I made fun of my fears at best, fed on them at worst with dramatic flourishes.
My sister, a government 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 reason to be paranoid, hadn’t I?
As I kept blogging, I was surprised the negative vibes eased.
With its requisite introspection, blogging could have put me in touch with higher wisdom, an inner guru that tells me I would have arrived exactly where I am now without worrying – and more pleasantly.
With its requisite raising of external awareness, blogging made me watch out for opportunities to try new things, meet new people, and to look at experiences with a sharp eye for the instructive, comic, unusual or O. Henri-esque twist, with which to hug, tug or at least nudge the reader.
Can it be true that once you put down toxin on paper or -- uhrrmmm -- onscreen, it stays put there?
Most obviously, blogging became a hedge against my fear of a life bereft of purpose. It was something I could do with a passion well into antiquity, as long as rheumy eyes can still peer and squint and gout-stiff fingers touch-type.
I have since retired.
My blogs no longer brooded as unrelentingly as before. From one day to the next, I could be distraught or upbeat or just lackluster, and the temper of my blog pieces could swing with my inner pendulum. By turns, I reminisced about lost youth, paid tribute to someone important to me, philosophized about my losses, made mountains out of little mounds of achievements, laughed at my spotty record as mom-wife-sister-worker-friend-neighbor, celebrated the first- time wonder of being grandmother, vented disappointments and frustrations and leftover dreams and aspirations. I also narrated stories of women who confided in me their hurts for an aborted book project a decade ago.
In short, I blogged chunks of my life and pieces of my mind.
Two and a half years into blogging, I have yet to discover the secret to being old and happy. Nor am I that convinced that the best is truly to come. But I now know without doubt that when I learn to love myself, I wouldn't care how old I got. I am getting there both in years and in self- esteem.
I also know now that much like youth and the middle years, old age is what we make it. Getting old does not take away our capacity to laugh (or cry), to be passionate (or nonchalant), to get involved (or stay detached), to grow (or atrophy) . And it does not completely disenfranchise us from making the usual life’s choices.
We can choose to be old and hopeful.
Sometimes, I still forget. But as I blog on, I am constantly reminded.
(Draft intro to a prospective book that's half reality and half in the realm of dreams)