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Monday December 9, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Monday December 9, 2013 MYT 7:03:41 AM
by mary schneider
Inviting: The Dead Sea, as seen from Jordan. Our columnist dreams of floating on the sea while reading a book. – Filepic
Our columnist is not about to let middle age dampen her spirit of adventure.
I’M 25 years old. I’ve been that age for the past 30 years. Except, someone forgot to tell my body. So, my youthful enthusiasm has to contend with a skeleton that creaks slightly, failing eyesight and a memory that is … well, I forget the word that best describes my memory, but I’ll let you know as soon as it comes back to me.
In my mind’s eye, which might also be deteriorating slightly, I feel no different from the way I did on my 25th birthday. On that particular day, the sun was shining, my face was glowing, my eyes were shining, my hair was cascading and I was happy and optimistic and full of hope for my future. I even have a photo (which I have, unfortunately, misplaced) to prove it.
When I speak to my children these days, both of whom are in their 20s, I seldom feel like a middle-aged parent. Sure, I still worry about their well-being, but I generally don’t play the mother card with them. I don’t ask them if they are eating well or getting enough sleep. I don’t give them the whole depressing lecture about the evils of illicit drugs and alcohol abuse, and unprotected sex, and the danger of walking down a dark alley on their own late at night. I also don’t tell them what they should be doing with their chosen careers.
I’ve given them all that advice a long, long time ago. And I’m sure their memories are a whole lot better than mine and they can remember everything I told them, especially the bit about taking care of their geriatric mother when she is no longer capable of stringing words together in a coherent manner.
Nonetheless, I’m still their mother, and if I felt they were really screwing up in some major way, I would tell them so.
My children talk to me about their work, the things they do in their free time, their friends and what they hope to do in the future. I sympathise with them when they talk about some of the morons they are forced to work with, I get excited for them when they talk about travel plans, and I feel happy when they tell me about their fulfilling relationships, both professional and personal.
Whenever I talk with them, I’m reminded of myself at that age. And that’s when I realise, all the more, that the 25-year-old me didn’t die all those years ago, she’s still alive and well and wanting to come out to play.
I still want to do many of the things that I wanted to do at 25, but didn’t get round to doing because of reasons outside of my control: mainly lack of money. Things like going on an African safari or travelling around South America or floating on the Dead Sea while reading a book, all of which require a level of funds that I’ve never had. But I’m still determined to do them someday – hopefully before I get too old to fully appreciate them.
According to the statistics, unless I succumb to a fatal disease or get knocked down by a bus, there is good possibility that I will live to be 82 years old. This means that I have 236,520 hours left to live. I have 27 more birthdays left to celebrate, 27 more Christmases to plan and 27 big holidays to organise. I could also potentially write 27 novels, which could be translated into 27 different languages and be made into 27 different movies, all of which could earn me in excess of $27mil. With all of that money, I could float on the Dead Sea for a long, long time, reading novels written by other people.
What I need to do is take all that youthful enthusiasm, get up off my bum and start doing things.
However, there is one thing that my 55-year-old self has to tell my inner 25-year-old: It’s great to visit exotic places, and have a sports car at your disposal, and have the time to learn how to paint a sunset, but with the finite time that you have left, you need to make sure that you do things that really make you happy. Spend your time wisely and don’t go chasing after things just because others deem them exciting and the “in thing” to do.
Oh, yes, and don’t waste precious time hanging out with people who don’t really give a @#$% about you.
Enough with the advice. I’ve just looked at the clock, and I’ve only got 236,518 hours left. Time to get going.
* Check out Mary on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mary.schneider.writer. Reader response can be directed to email@example.com.
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Opinion, Lifestyle, Mary Schneider, But Then Again, ageing
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