A few minutes ago I had one of those epiphany moments. I stopped in the parking lot of my local Publix market and marvelled that something so simple had never occurred to me before. Here's my tale of the day, boys and girls:
Lately, well for several years now actually, I've been feeling intermittently sort of sorry for myself for my ever increasing age and outward sags and wrinkles. Realizing that my future decades are numbered now in a probable finite several is admittedly sobering. I've been seeing the sand in the proverbial hour glass emptying out way too fast. That's the back story and maybe the subject of another blog.
Today, being (finally) mostly recovered from an unexpected and nasty twelve day cold, I ventured out in my little red Volvo to rejoin the rest of humanity. While the weather in the rest of the country seems to be viciously cold and icy and snowy, here in Florida it is in the mid seventies and cloudy with a chance of meatballs. I offer no complaints when I don't have to wear a jacket in February. Who would! So, needing some food, off I went to the grocery.
I loaded up my cart till it was overflowing with stuff and sedately moseyed over to the nearest check out line, after spending an inordinate time selecting just the right ice cream and breakfast foods. As the cashier was ringing up my purchases a frowning woman maybe two or even three decades my junior zoomed up behind me with three pieces of fruit. She moved her now empty cart at me like a bulldozer aiming at a sand hill. I had nowhere to move to so I stood fast. The cart stopped. Now, this big imposing sort of woman I will call Pauline, stepped in front of her cart and pushed her body as far over as she could towards the card scanner without actually physically shoving me out of her way as the bag lady loaded up my six cloth bags with various goodies. As I waited for the bagger to fill the last two bags, I moved as far into the aisle as I could get without actually abandoning my things. Still frowning, Pauline leaned closer to me me and twisted her big body into pretzel shape to scan her debit card. This broad was determined to get the hell out of the store asap!
Alas, for the impatient panting woman: It was crowded in the store and poor Pushy Pauline ended up trapped behind me rolling her cart (for three pieces of fruit?) out of the door. I could feel waves of hostility behind my back boiling from her. I could feel the heat of her glare. She was in a hurry, no time to loiter, no time to stroll, no time to smile. She was late, late for a very important...something. Since she was so aggressive, I mulishly refused to move faster or jump out of her way while pretending not to notice her. (I admit to feeling just a moment of irritation at her rudeness.) The microsecond she could get around me she raced to her car, jumped in, left the cart in the lot, and roared away, still frowning.
I shrugged. It was too nice a day to dwell on rudeness.Then, while loading my things in the back of my car, something else struck me. I was in a good mood again because I had no reason to hurry. Pauline did, or at any rate she thought so. Frowning the whole time she was in the store and while driving to her next task, no doubt buzzing like a hornet about to sting something unwary, she was blitzing through life without noticing much outside herself. and her own anxieties.
What was so important to this harried woman I wondered? A job? Two jobs? Cranky kids to pick up at daycare before racing home to mountains of dirty laundry and to make...fruit...for dinner? Maybe she was in grad school with an impossible assignment to complete. Maybe a mean boss or harried spouse just yelled at her. Maybe she was out of work? In any case, this woman in a tearing hurry was obviously not happy. Not speaking to the clerk or the bagger or me or anyone else, she was in a FRENZY. Yes, whatever the cause, this much younger woman was definitely not happy.
And I suddenly realized how lucky I was not to be in a hurry anymore. Not to have to rush anywhere...ever again. Not to have to be accountable to anyone else but me unless I chose to be. I looked around the lot as I took my cart to the cart corral at several older people loading groceries into their cars. They weren't in a hurry either. They looked over and smiled. I remembered what it was to be young and how I was almost always too busy and concerned about responsibility to remember to have much fun. Always looking ahead to the next task or the next problem and the next 'have to'. I probably didn't smile much, either. I don't remember.
"Well," I said aloud as soon as I was in my car and backing out, "I'd like to have my young face back and be able to jump up from a kneeling position as fast as I could at twenty, but there are compensations to age after all." I smiled at my wrinkles in the car's mirror. I winked and if the crows feet stayed in place. I thought, " So what."
Then, I went home and did whatever the hell I pleased, which happened to be having a mid afternoon snack of an English muffin with high sugar English marmalade and blogging. Next I am going to read a little more of the novel I am reading on Kindle and then maybe work a little bit on a new poem before thinking about supper. Or maybe not. There's no deadline after all remember? (Danny doesn't care what I make for supper as long as there is supper and if it should be late it wouldn't bother him much. He'd just take a nap.) This not being young thing is getting better and better.
Yes, I am one lucky person, wrinkles and all.
Here's the rest of my message. Stop, relax those facial muscles, all you 'Paulines' out there. Practice saying, "I am not in your hurry." Laundry can wait. Most other things can, too, for a few minutes, an hour, or a day. A crowded schedule can be simplified. So be good to yourself. Remake that appointment that's stressing you. Tell your boss you'll get it done and do it, but take a break and listen to your favorite music or do some yoga. Hug your cat, your dog, your spouse, your kid. Take a twenty minute walk, listen to the birdsong, feel the sun or the sea breeze on your face. Slow the speed on the treadmill of your life enough to look around. Have some fun along with the work and the 'have to' realities. And buy something more interesting than fruit for Chrissakes. Life is shorter than you think.
Oh, and growing older isn't so bad after all. Trust me, I know.
Happy Groundhog Day.