Getting Old?

I am beginning to understand how it feels to get old…on one hand, as the balloon goes higher in the sky, the perspective widens and deepens. This is good. I see new possibilities springing up around me: new ways of thinking, new challenges for me to tackle, new songs to write, new roads to travel. My story, in many ways, is just beginning.

On the other, sometimes it feels like being an old shoe–serviceable for so long, and then headed to the waste bin. Sigh. These old shoes have seen a lot of life.  The soles are a bit worn, but there’s still a good, solid arch and a spring in the step. The polish is wearing thin in places, and the heel isn’t as high.  But these shoes can still dance.

Sometimes I feel wise beyond my years, and others I feel downright foolish.  I don’t mind looking foolish if I am pushing my boundaries in pursuit of my art or scholarship. Who cares?  One advantage to getting old is that generally, we don’t give as much of a hoot what other people think.  I love the women who wear purple hats.  One day I will join that society.  Wisdom and silliness surely skip down the road of life hand in hand. The one balances the other.

The last thing I want to do is turn into a bitter old woman who feels that the best of her life is behind her.  At 59, I am poised on the cusp of the last third of my life.  I know that.  My time is running out.  There is no need to be coy about this.  But instead of feeling down about this, I feel instead a renewed urgency and energy to do the things I want to do today.  There is, now, no time to waste.  Every single day is a gift.  It always has been, but it takes growing older to fully appreciate this.

My dad used to always say that “the universe will step aside and let a person pass who knows where she is going.”  This little quip has meant more and more to me in the past few years since his death.  He always believed in his children and encouraged us every way we could to “develop our personalities and talents.”  He knew we wouldn’t stay young forever, even as we were living our young lives in the height of our summer season.  He knew that age would creep in and rob us of our youth and beauty.  But he also knew that if we were prepared–educated, knowledgeable, compassionate, and ethical humans–that age would not rob us of the things that mattered.

And so, this old shoe is going to polish herself up for this final third of the game.  Let’s go, Life!



Author: Nicole

I am an Assistant Teaching Professor at the University of Washington, Tacoma where I teach courses in literature and writing. My first book, entitled Virginia Woolf and The Power of Story, was published in the spring of 2017. My most recent book project is FemPoetiks of American Poetry and Americana Music: A Woman's Truth. This book focuses on three poets--Anne Bradstreet, Phillis Wheatley, and Emily Dickinson--and three singer-songwriters--Brandi Carlile, Rhiannon Giddens, and Lucinda Williams. I am also a singer-songwriter with four albums: Little Queenie (2016) No Limits (2017), Songs for Unsung Women (2017), and By Your Side (2021). My next album is in production now, so stay tuned!

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