Word of the Year: Acceptance
It’s the end of January, and I can’t let the month go by without a mention of my official word for the year, which I prefer over making resolutions. “Acceptance” can mean many things, ranging from near-resignation to near-nirvana, but I mean it simply as the Acceptance of things as they are–with the intent of still working toward what I want.
Seeing beautiful potential through the mist
I’ve also written about this on my author blog, focusing on the way Acceptance impacts me in my working life. But it is a good word for one’s personal life, too. Among the things I need to Accept is my age, and all the limitations that come with it. I’m in my sixties now, but I think that Acceptance could still apply to someone in their thirties and forties. Whatever age you are at, there are limitations, even if you aren’t aware of them.
When I was in my late thirties, I saw some real differences between how I was then with how I was in my twenties, and I remember kicking myself for some stupid choices I’d made ten or fifteen years earlier, feeling that I’d be further along in life if I hadn’t wasted so much time. Ten years after that, I knew exponentially more about life and the way the world works, and began to think of faster ways to make hay while the proverbial sun still shone. And ten years after that, in my late fifties, I realized that I was right about some things when I was in my late teens and early twenties, when my intuition was not yet tainted by the negative experiences that led to self-doubt. Never one to give up, I scrambled to get my life back on track, since now there wasn’t a day to lose.
One thing I’ve heard a lot of people in late middle age say is that they still feel young inside their heads. I’m no exception–the still-youthful part of my mind thinks it’s going to live forever. Maybe I’m more aware of limitations now because they are so darn obvious–the body isn’t quite as dependable as it was, nor memory, nor sleep, nor stamina–but I’m just as ambitious as I was decades ago. My brain still thinks it’s in its thirties. Until, that is, fatigue makes it come to a crashing halt. Stuff like that.
Spurred on by the illusions of Youthful Brain, I’ve always blasted against time, against fatigue and aches and pains, against personal problems and other limitations, as if I was pulling one big decades-long all-nighter in order to ace some kind of Exam of Life. Honestly, it’s a bad habit to get into, and I really don’t recommend it. I finally hit the wall and spent several weeks barely remembering how to do anything, like cooking simple things, what side of the hall the light switch was on, etc. The name of a close friend. The day of the week. Panic attacks set in over trivia. It took several more weeks to recover, and I still have to take things a bit easy.
I finally had to Accept that I literally can’t do things like a twenty-something anymore, not without disastrous consequences that wouldn’t be fair to my family, let alone to myself. See what I did there? This isn’t coming from a lofty place, it’s an admission that if I want to go through the Rest of My Life with a little bit of grace and style and self-preservation, I need to adopt a better M.O. I need to take charge and be a better parent/grandparent to the still-young part of my brain, and start working and living a little smarter.