Thoughts on Aging

It’s a glorious day here at the Old Stone House: 10°C, mostly sunny, teasing of spring to come. But not yet. Most definitely not yet; the worst storms of winter often scream through April 1. But for today, I work quietly in the shafts of sunlight from the skylights.

While writing blog posts for myself and the publishing house, uploading audiofiles to proof for one of our authors, reading a submission, juggling bookkeeping and the myriad other tasks of the day, in the back of this busy mind are thoughts of time, of aging, of the realization of very finite space left in which to create.

Now, understand, these are not maudlin thoughts. I’m not sure why it is most of Western society regards thoughts of mortality as taboo. Just seems to be wisely pragmatic, a recognition of reality and planning for that reality of an end to our existence.

And so it is, while taking care of business, I’m aware that if I’m lucky I have 15, maybe 20 years left in which to realize all those stories and paintings populating my imagination, to spend time with those few people whom I trust and love. That’s not much time. If a person were wont to give into panic, certainly an awareness of this sort might send one into a tizzy of desperation. But it’s rather strange for me, because although I’m aware of this reality, I’m also aware I will make the most of what I have left, fill each day with as many positive, creative endeavours as possible, and to do so in a calm, even contented manner.

This paradigm came to me, I suppose, when I confronted cancer three years ago. Now, understand, that was a very brief and minor brush with that big scary C-word of which we’re all so terrified. I was lucky. And during my recovery I spent a great deal of time just sunning in the garden, being still, listening to the wind in the willow, goldfinches trilling, sparrows squabbling, holding my breath when a chipmunk, squirrel or rabbit would come as close as my toes. Small things. Small pleasures. And utterly profound. I came to the realization I’d been given a gift, because I now had a new understanding that this day, for good or ill, would never come again. And because of that realization I knew it was important to make each and every day count, whether that day was spent in stillness or activity.

Then again last year I had another epiphany when my mother died. I realized it is every day, each action, which becomes the legacy we leave, a legacy we will never know, and only embraced by those left behind. And how better it is to leave a legacy of kindness and creativity, than one of bitterness and destruction.

So, instead of looking to the closing decades of my life with fear, I find myself actually smiling contentedly, knowing I have been fortunate indeed not only to have led the life I have, making a garden from difficulty, and a sanctuary from the gifts of love, but to be able to go forward continuing to write, to paint, to leave hidden worlds that maybe someday, someone will unearth and say, “Yes. I understand.” And smile. And thus share across time and distance.

It is a comforting thought.

So come March 1, in this my 63rd year, I’ll share with all of you a weird odyssey in my novel Caliban. And next year I’ll give you the novel of a woman’s self-discovery in The Rose Guardian. 

And isn’t the sun wonderful today?


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