Monday, April 13, 2009

Feeling Mortal

I read a post on a young friend's blog the other day about finding her first gray hair. My hairdresser found mine and with a tug, yanked it out of my head. I asked her not to do that again, and have tried to live, somewhat gracefully, with aging.

Until last week's double whammy.

First was the mammogram people, calling me back to schedule another appointment, not only with them, but also with the radiology/ultrasound people. This was a sobering moment, but to combat it with perfect denial, I repeated to myself the phrase, kind of like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, chanting while she clicked her ruby-red heels together: "I'm not in a high risk group, I'm not in a risk group." I breastfed my children, no close relative has been diagnosed with breast cancer, and I had children before age 30. Doesn't that entitle me to a little denial?

Then my doctor's office called and yes, they want to put me on statins. This one's harder to work around, as it's all invisible little something-or-others that are not cooperating with my desire to have perfect health until I suddenly fall over at around, say, at age 92 or something. (Although I reserve the chance to revise that upwards if I hit 90.)

However all this interferes with the idea that I've cultivated for a while: There's Always More Time. This is my trap, my snare, that hole that swallows me up. I have lots of time so I can do that later. I began saying this when I had three teenagers. It was like a soothing utterance as I shelved one fondly held desire after another. I can do it when they're all raised. I'll have Time. Lots of it. It's how I kept my sanity.

But the reality is that there's never any more time. I just think there is. For the Big Joke was when I finally got rid of all those pesky mouthy and crazy and wonderful teens and did have more time, I went to Grad School. I repeated the mantra, with an added clause: There's Always More Time, as soon as I finish grad school. Yes, yes. And then there was trying to find a job, which I got, which really gives me NO TIME whatsoever for lounging around and doing whatever it was I put off until later.

And the Really Big Joke comes when you finally do get time and get past all that, and you find, to your great surprise, that all those things you thought you'd do, um, you don't really want to do now. According to Oprah, it's a part of menopause. According to Erickson's Stages of Psychosocial Development, it's a natural part of the aging process--you have a different set of tasks that you take on as you age, and you leave the younger tasks behind. According to me, it's all a Big Joke. A bait and switch in the shopping aisle of life. And those trite phrases work well when it's not you trying to Seize the Day or something, and soon you'll design that great quilt, or write the All-American Novel, or photograph the one scene that the Getty really wants, only they haven't discovered you yet. You can't really blame them though, as you haven't discovered yourself yet. It's on my To Do list and I'll get to it as soon as I'm through grading these essays, and figure out what we're having for dinner, and finish up the laundry. You know. . . when I have a little more time.


Artax said...

OK that's it. I'm going to start writing my novel TONIGHT!


barbara said...

I have never heard it expressed so well.
Love, Mom.