Wednesday, October 15, 2008

On the Glass Half Full

Our most foolish belief is that we have time. (author unknown)

ROBERTA: Last year my DH John went into New York for the launch of Grandparents.com, a website started by a former colleague. There was going to be a lot of talk about marketing to Baby Boomers, a subject near to John's heart because of his retirement website. The speaker began with an audience-engaging question: "Considering your life now, how many of you believe the best part of your life is yet to come?"

Many hands were raised.

"And how many of you believe the best part of your life is behind you?"�

John, thinking of his impending 60th birthday and the few aches and pains that were currently limiting his usual round of vigorous sporting activities, raised his hand. He was the only one.

The speaker laughed and said: "We'd better leave that between him and his therapist."

John was perplexed and embarrassed, only trying to make an honest assessment. I'd have to agree with him in some ways: my physical body isn't going back to its peak, no matter how many pilates sessions I attend. My writing, on the other hand, I'd like to think is only halfway (maybe even less!) to where it could be.

Big question for a Wednesday morning: Is the best yet to come for you?

RO: A resounding YES. I may not look or feel the way I did at my physical peak, but I'm so much less crazy now,that it more than makes up for it. Would I like to feel like a 20 yr old every once in a while, sure. And this week I discovered a great way to do it. Go to a Wednesday matinee in NY. It's filled with 80 yr olds. Saw South Pacific. Some of the people in the audience looked like they'd served with MacArthur. I felt like young stuff.
BTW, my DH, Bruce talks about this a LOT. He frequently mentions that each decade has been better than the last (I don't remind him that he was married twice before and this last decade was MINE!)

JAN: I understand John completely -- only because my DH, Bill, has also always been an athlete. Athletes feel the aging process most acutely because they remember how fast or fit they used to be. Lucky for me, I didn't become obsessed with sports and physical fitness until I was 35. So, to me, every ache and pain has to do with this new sports addiction of mine, NOT aging. I fail to make the association. I also think it helps to be a writer. For the most part, writing is about perspective -- and I think perspective improves with age.

HANK: Oh, we love John. And yes, he was just being honest. And doesn't that make the discussion more interesting?

Anyway, it's probably an indication of how old I really am, but it's so nostalgic for me, now, to watch teeangers struggle and battle for postiion and popularity and self-esteem. How many times did my mom tell me, in high shcool--don't worry, honey, high school is not the pinnacle of your life? And in hindsight of course, that's right. It just--seems as if it is, at the time.

Now I feel--stronger (usually), and confident (sometimes), and at least more flexible about what's to come. The world is funnier, somehow. People are strange, events are unpredictable and yeah, that's how it is. I can more easily go with it.

(And Ro, we have season tickets to Symphony here in Boston. It's terrific. And not just for the music. Except for the music students, I'm by far the youngest. Remember when we wished we were older?? Mwa ha ha.)

Is the best yet to come? Sure. Around every corner. I think we just have to be open for it.


HALLIE: Is the best is yet to come? I certainly hope so. But if not, this has been a pretty great ride.

It’s the old: Is the glass half full or half empty? Seems to me the real question is: What’s in the half that’s left? As for me, I hope it’s champagne.

13 comments:

Sheila Connolly said...

While the body may not be as willing as it once was, I have to say I'm having more fun with this writer thing than I've had in years. Who knew I could reinvent myself? What's more, I seem to be pulling in bits and pieces of every former life and using them. I feel like young Wat in The Once and Future King--everything that came before was training for the now.

Do I wish I had started earlier? Maybe--but I also recognize I wasn't ready, and I had nothing to say on paper. Actually it's better that I should be doing this now, because I place much less value on what other people might think about me, and I don't worry about making a fool of myself.

I love the fact that life can still hold surprises.

Roberta Isleib said...

Wonderful comments Sheila, sounds like you came to writing at exactly the right time!

caryn said...

Although I'm in my 50s, I come from a long lived family. I fully expect to live to be nearly if not 100. I'm in better physical shape than I was 20 years ago. I graduated from college, got married, had 3 kids in 4 years and lost myself to carpool schedules, nursery schools, PTOs sports and dance schedules and whatnot. When they were all in school, I went to work fulltime. By the time they were grown and I had quit working and waddled into the fitness center, I had MUCH work to do. A few years of fitness classes later, I feel great.
Caryn

MaxWriter said...

As a glass-is-half-full type of person by nature, I'm with many of you, and specifically, Hallie: "Is the best is yet to come? I certainly hope so. But if not, this has been a pretty great ride." And like Hank at the Symphony, all I have to do is to go to Old-Lady, I mean, Water aerobics, as I did this morning, to feel young, fit, lean, and energetic (ignoring that the reason I am even there at age 56 is all my creaky and weak lower-body joints). The only reason I wish I were younger would be to have more energy to get up two hours early and write before my full-time job every day rather than try to work writing in on Saturday mornings and the occasional day off. Speaking of that, I'd love a topic session on how people figure out how to write after or before their full-time jobs and commutes!

Edith

beckylevine said...

Still to come, thank you. Although I can very much understand John's pov (and think the speaker was a completely rude jerk to make a joke out of it). Instead of looking like it'll go on forever, time does seem to be narrowing a bit--with "life deadlines" nudging at my thoughts in a way they never did before.

The part I like about this age, though, is that I feel so much more in control as to whether life is good or not. Yes, crud happens, out of the blue, and there are things we can still do nothing to stop, but...on the day-to-day stuff, the goals, etc, I feel that I can impact all that. In those years that are "supposed" to be so wonderful, I pretty much felt like it was all up to somebody else, and I didn't even know who that was.

And thanks for the post. Definitely needed this reminder today! :)

Laura Benedict said...

I don't mean to sound Pollyanna-ish, but I've come to the point in my life where I feel like every new day is a blessing. I wouldn't want to relive some of the difficult things I've dealt with--but I wouldn't have the wonderful life that I have now if I hadn't gone through them.

We're not promised tomorrow. But I will love it if given the chance!

(Okay--Hallmark moment over!)

Jan Brogan said...

I think we've got quite the crowd of the optimistic and inspired! Maybe getting old isn't so bad!

Anonymous said...

"Maybe getting old isn't so bad!"

And it certainly ain't for sissies! While physically my body seems to be falling apart, my mental health is stronger than ever. Like Hank said, it's the strength, confidence, and flexibility, the ability to go with the flow. I seem to be more willing, more able, more open. To bring this back to writing...well, I dunno how to bring it back. :) But, yes, it's been great so far, and the best is yet to come.

Paula (proud recipient of the first ever JungleRed bookmark!)

Hallie Ephron said...

I do think that the "aha" about older age, when you get there, is to slow down and savor every good meal, every good friend, daughters, husband...and aren't the trees in New England absolutely exquisite today?? Whenever happiness a choice, choose it.

Anonymous said...

RO is right about the rejuvenating impact of going to the theater. It's the only place this 57-year-old still feels like a kid!

Rosemary Harris said...

Sheila, yeah, sometimes I wish I had started earlier,too but I was too busy meeting the people I'm putting in my books now...

Water aerobics! Why didn't I think of that?I'm signing up!

(Hi Paula - it was fun to see you again at B'con.)

Susannah C said...

Whenever happiness is a choice--choose it.


Beautiful.

Roberta Isleib said...

Thanks all for your thoughts on this subject! And John thanks Becky for sticking up for him:)

Come by tomorrow to chat with the former cast of Sex, Lies, and Videotape...that's Libby Hellmann and Deborah Donnelly. we'll have fun!