From the depths of my heart, I wish I could say: "Yes.”
I thought I owed a happy answer to Princess Parungao who once thanked me for making her feel it was "perfectly alright to retire and get old." And to Gibbs Cadiz who called me an “inspiration for seniors” to embrace (computer) technology and who assumed he wanted to live his life the way I do mine when his “time” comes. I thought I owed it, too, to a handful of others who think I am still one hip and groovy and hot babe -- regardless I no longer hot-flush – and that I can still pull and tickle and rock and kick ass -- in spite of impending muscle atrophy.
But on second thoughts, Princess, Gibbs and company deserve a more honest answer, don't they? And I want to be a harbinger of hope, yes, but not of the false kind.
There are days, in fact, I cope magnificently and days I do miserably, but more days I feel so -- uhmmm – so so.
Taking time out to smell the flowers is great but you do it a few whiffs at a time and not make a fetish out of it. Getting fixated on sunsets is okay, too, except they last only a few minutes and are precious and few and elusive these rained out months.
And can one really make a career out of grand mothering? I love my Apo Andeng to death and it is terrific to be loved unconditionally in turn and be at the receiving end of milk-laced kisses and chocolate-coated hugs. Sure, I get all soft and gooey when Andeng climbs into my lap or thrusts out a hand trusting me absolutely to lead her where it is safe and happy. But those are the good days, when the Apo has woken up on the right side of the crib. Andeng, like most brats, I mean, toddlers, has horrid moments as well, capable as she is of throwing the most spectacular of tantrums, and -- oooh, see if I’d dare come within 10 meters of the Apo when she’s in the middle of one. Yes, thank heavens for the freedom of choice grand moms are entitled to.
I sometimes make much of virtual pleasures. Can you blame me? The online trove is a rich and enchanting wonderland that can suck in any unsuspecting Alice, Dick, or Mary. There’s e-mailing, scrabbling, blogging,YM-ing, G-talking, Face-booking, Farm-towning, plurking, twittering, photo-bucketing, You-tubing … with more digital delights out there one can never fully explore in one’s lifetime. One has to be cautious about living one’s life online, though. The dangers are many and real; and I don’t just mean back pains, butt sores, head aches, detached retinas, and cabin fever. Worst, all the logging and clicking and buddying and chatting can -- uh-oh-- put one in indefinite quarantine from the real world – not too unlike living in an opium-induced daze.
Sure, there is more time at post retirement for the things one has always enjoyed doing. Like baking, cooking, going out with ladies who lunch, reading, bookstore browsing, writing. Pingpong, badminton, walking. All these, in measured doses.
What I am trying to say is one still has to fill one’s days with a balanced fare -- enjoyable and dutiful ; fluffy and solid; physical and cerebral. What I call the three Ps: Poetry, Purpose and Play. And, not to forget -- Passion!
Purpose pre-occupies and fulfills. Play distracts and tickles. Poetry ennobles and recharges. While passion overwhelms, consumes, sends one outside oneself.
To me, smelling the flowers and marveling at sunsets are poetry. Baking, cooking, and gardening are usually purpose. Scrabble and Farmtown are unadulterated play. Reading and writing can be both poetic and purposeful -- and for now the closest to being my life’s passion. And Apo Andeng can be all 3 Ps, alternatively or all at the same time.
I guess I am getting more than the poetry and play I can use or am entitled to. What I need is more purpose and, I guess, passion. More sense of urgency. More deadline-chasing and “gosh , I’m gonna be late” get- up- and -go -- staples both of my working life. Also some sharing. And some paying back and forward. I am looking for these. I am going to find them soon.
So – once again now -- how am I coping these days?
On top of the heap today, groveling at the pits tomorrow, and neither here nor there most days.
Which, come to think of it, is the exact same way my pre-retirement days used to zig and zag.