Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Acting like I'm 80? I take that as a compliment.
It hit me last night: I'm at a point in my life at which I really, really enjoy routine. And I especially enjoy it when it occurs at home.
For me, that's pretty weird. Although I've always liked my home and the people who live in it, I've never been a homebody. Historically, I've equated staying home with "having nothing better to do." But now, embracing this new phase of my life also means finally being able to embrace relaxation.
OK, maybe "embrace" is a strong word. But I'm able to accept it. And sometimes, I actually long for it.
It hit me last night. I was haranguing (OK, nagging) Kevin about the fact that he doesn't like to exercise, and I suggested he start going with me when I walk the dog. His response:
"Going to the park that's two blocks from our house and walking the dog in the same circle every night sounds miserable to me. We might as well be 80 years old."
I wouldn't go quite that far ... but I get what he's saying. Still, though, I'm not ashamed. If I'm acting like I'm 80, it's been a long time coming.
For most of my adult life, I've worked two jobs. That situation has been of my own choosing; as a writer, it's been important for me to keep my hand in my craft to help maintain a sense of balance. But the reality has been that most weeks, I've spent at least a couple of nights covering meetings and writing news and feature articles. I've loved it. But this year, I started a new "real" job, and I was tired. So I cut back.
And in doing so, I discovered such things as sitting on the couch occasionally, having time to -- yes -- walk the dog, and going to bed before midnight. And now, during the course of the day, I find myself yearning for the tranquility that the nighttime will bring.
I really don't think this is a function of age; yes, I'm 50, but I'm also in pretty good physical shape. If anything is tired, it's my psyche. Years of feeling the need to be "on" have taken their toll. Don't get me wrong; I like to think I'm still "on" during the day, and for the freelance work I still occasionally do at night. But I'm finally starting to develop a level of comfort with being "off."
I have a good friend who turned 50 and got her motorcycle license; I know others my age who have taken up rock-climbing or who have developed a love for the nightlife after staying home to raise kids. And I think that's great, but I also know I'm simply too darned tired.
So if that makes me 80, so be it. I think it's more likely, though, to mean I'm embarking on a phase in which I charge my emotional and intellectual "tanks" by turning inward. When I run in the mornings or walk the dog in the evening, I say my prayers. I think through that day's events, or prepare for the next day's tasks.
While I'm spending more time in the house, I'm also, strangely, more engaged with my whole, full life. I delight in my interactions with my children, and I enjoy the mundane, everyday things that delight me about being a dog owner. I enjoy devouring content on my tablet and in catching reruns of "Big Bang Theory" or strange shows on TLC ("Sister Wives," anyone?).
Sure, I get bored sometimes. And I'm not big on domestic pursuits, so my newfound love for staying home unfortunately does not mean a cleaner house or homemade baked goods in the pantry.
But it means some really good things: My heart rate is slower. My blood pressure is lower. I'm remembering to breathe. And I'm discovering how it feels to live life minus that frantic feeling I'd been used to for so long.
If that makes me 80, so be it. I prefer to think that if anything, leading a simpler lifestyle may help ensure I can stick around until I'm 80. In the meantime, though, I need to excuse myself. "Big Bang Theory" is on, and the couch is calling.