Saturday, June 20, 2009

Over the Hill and Blogging

On the edge of retirement, I became a blogger.

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)

34 comments:

geri said...

Hi Anna, I am touched by this piece. I have a question, was there ever a point you looked forward to retirement though? Or was it the growing old part that you dreaded?

Annamanila said...

Geri!

Yes, I looked forward to it when retirement was 20, 25 years away. :)

Hmmm I guess I dreaded the emptiness and purposelessness more than anything else.

Today, I am coping marvelously one day and miserably the next. hahaha On the balance, I am okay!

Rudy said...

Uh oh! I forgot about that "little" project of ours with toe, and verns. Hmm, now that you've reminded me, I'm wondering if...

Annamanila said...

Yes, Rudy. We lost steam on our four-blogger book project, didn't we? Pwede pa nating ituloy ha!

The manuscript I am working on targets the seniors market. A (prospective) publisher thinks it could interest senior citizens coordination units of local governments.

We still haven't talked of terms. But I am behaving as though this is already a done deal. :)

Dondi Tiples said...

Wow. I am blown away by this one.

Annamanila said...

Dondi!

Thanks. That is so reassuring -- that what I write can move some readers. :)

auee said...

I look forward to my retirement but not to be idle. I hope I have enough fund for little projects of my own.

I pray I can be as productive as you at least. With the attitude and optimism to boot :-)

I'm looking forward to this book ha. I know it will touch me 100x more than this intro.

Annamanila said...

I have no doubt you won't lack for things to absorb you when the time comes. Alam ko, matagal ka pa -- but I should think its never too early to plan your retirement.

Auee, the book compiles selected blogs from this site. Would you still like a copy, even if you've read many of my posts?

Kumusta ka na. Di na tayo nagkita when you came home early this year.

LOREN said...

I have fears. and many of which are connected with retiring. and having a glimpse of your thoughts and wisdom while reading your blog eases these fears. that's why i keep coming back for more. i'm your regular reader. thank you.

Annamanila said...

Loren!

A bit of anxiety is fine -- they push usto action, to plan for that transition no matter how far it is in the future. I am glad what I write can assuage some of the jitters. That is my purpose in writing odes to old. To ease retirement and growing old blues -- both mine and the readers'.

Ty very mucho. Will drop by your place too.

Gypsy said...

Words fail me. I so look forward when this piece of wisdom gets to be part of a book. The Blogworld has meaning and quality because of bloggers like you. Warmest Blessings!

Annamanila said...

Gypsy!

When and if the book materializes, you would surely know. Ty for giving me the confidence I sorely need to pursue this project.

And what you say of me as a blogger, I can absolutely say of you, too.

Cheers.

julie said...

Last week, after i baked something, my eldest daughter told me that that (baking) is one of the things I can do when I retire.

I thought, "Me? retire?" For now, I could not think of dong that yet.

We look forward to reading that book.

Thanks for coming over last Saturday :)

Annamanila said...

Trixxie is already thinking of your retirement. She has foresight ha? hahaha

I enjoyed last Saturday immensely.

Abaniko said...

I think this entry inspired me to go back to blogging. I hate you Annamanila!!! :D

Abaniko said...

Oh, lest you delete my previous comment, you very well know that the emphatic last sentence is a declaration of endearment. Hehe.

Annamanila said...

Abaniko!

So your buddies and fans owe me. hahaha

Don't worry. I know that you love me implicitly. And the feeling is mutual. ahem, ahem. Baka tayo machismis.

bw said...

A very introspective post into the perils and pleasures of retirement :)

As they say, no one ever said on his deathbed " I wish I worked harder".

Enjoy your wonderful apo and keep on blogging :)

Annamanila said...

BW!

I like the way you put it -- pleasures and perils. :)

How are things with you, BW? Will visit your site asap.

myepinoy said...

someone told me this, 'happiness is a series of the little things in life that bring a smile.'

I guess, your post retirement options are the series of little things in life that will bring a smile to you. And blogging is one of them.

.... just let me know when are you going to do the first in that list especially the 'sing in public and drink one too many', i am willing to help you... lol.

Annamanila said...

Myepinoy!

We should watch out for those little smiley things, ha, or make ourselves so ticklish anything and everything (just about) can make us smile. Another nugget from myepinoy!

lol ... sige, how about tomorrow?

tanivillamora said...

This is the most insightful piece I've read all week. Unlike some, I look forward to aging and becoming wiser. Physical aging? That too, but I hope it comes slowly. :) I pray I'll live long enough to look back at a life well-lived and to tell the world about it.. Or at least blogosphere. ;)
I'm thankful for the people who blog and blog-hop. I've learned thus far that bloggers have different reasons why they blog. And I've learned that one way or another, serious bloggers share the same sentiments. Human nature. :) Keep on blogging, Annamanila. Good Luck in all your endeavors.

tanivillamora said...

This is the most insightful piece I've read all week. Unlike some, I look forward to aging and becoming wiser. Physical aging? That too, but I hope it comes slowly. :) I pray I'll live long enough to look back at a life well-lived and to tell the world about it.. Or at least blogosphere. ;)
I'm thankful for the people who blog and blog-hop. I've learned thus far that bloggers have different reasons why they blog. And I've learned that one way or another, serious bloggers share the same sentiments. Human nature. :) Keep on blogging, Annamanila. Good Luck in all your endeavors.

Annamanila said...

Tani!

This comment is also chockful of insights .. about blogging, about my blog friend Tani, and my favorite blog topic -- growing old. Ty, ty; am sure when you get to where i am now, you will shine all the more brightly! See I glow too. :)

Leah said...

Hi Annamanila,
What an endearing entry. It inspires me to write as meaningful as you do.

I want a copy of that book, ok? i'm sure it is more than half way to reality.

miss you...

Leah

Annamanila said...

Leah!

I hope so ... though I have set the manuscripts aside for more than a week for some more pressing and personal concerns. hope to go back to organizing and reviewing the compilation asap.

I hope we stumble on each other somewhere -- at g talk, at the scrabble club, at face book chat or -- who knows -- face to face. Aaah, let's dream on.

Woman said...

hi, annamanila, also dreaded 'not being young(er)'anymore (i can't even write"old" ha ha) but blogging really helped a lot about the acceptance part.

your insights are inspiring. and you write so well.

Annamanila said...

Woman!

It also took time for me to write old." Much less "wrinkled." hahaha Takes getting used, you know.

Bloggers, when they look inside themselves for things to write or to make sense out of their external experiences, get to tap into inner wisdom. We become privy to the hidden insights.

See ya at your place.

auee said...

Anna, of course I'd like a copy!
I wouldn't miss it for the world.
:-D

I'm so happy & proud that my blogging faves are such good writers. Besides your topics are timeless, I love re-reading them. Book format will make it easier.

Annamanila said...

I love you, Auee! :) :)

Sana nga matuloy. *crossing fingers of both hands*

Kuya Ronnie said...

It's no so bad after all ma'am, You have found blogging wherein age doesn't count..

I felt everything about your blog for my aging parents, my mother was just diagnosed with diabetes and I am away from her so far that I couldn't even remember her face and my retired father who was once a pillar of strength, a farmer by profession and a public servant in our community. Now he is just looking at his farm paying others to tend it.

Video 48 said...

Hi Anna! Just dropping to say hi! Can I call you tita. Nice meeting you in person. I was amused when you say that you are also into blogging, hehehe! That reminds me of the recent TV commercial I saw. I read some of the articles you posted and it dawn to me the fear of growing old. I read somewhere and I quote "A paradox of old age is although we have less time to live, we have more time to spend. Freed from the time consumed by a full-time job, we now have time to spend with friends and family, hobbies, personal and spiritual growth, and volunteering. This stage of life can definitely become the most rewarding one." Good Day, Tita!
Simon

Video 48 said...

Btw, Tita, add your site to my link. Thanks again for all the wonderful articles.

bettyl said...

Sometimes just being one's self is all that is needed to have a 'productive' life. Education and careers are fine, but I feel that we touch other lives every day and how we do that is 'productive' or not.

Thanks for blogging!

Stat Counter