I don’t think I agree with Mr. Sedaris when he says:
Though there’s an industry built on telling you otherwise, there are few real joys to middle age. The only perk I can see is that, with luck, you’ll acquire a guest room.
and as per usual I read the line incorrectly at first as “There ARE A FEW real joys”. Ooops. There are many draw-backs to aging but I have found there are a few, very real joys. Acquiring a guest room speaks of many things, financial things, years of acquiring security, home and also friends. These things are indeed things to be pleased about. But the greatest joys I am finding, and I am past middle-age, are in being less observed and more observing, needing less and appreciating more, and feeling less expectation (and maybe more love).
These days I am having very wonderful conversations sometimes on public transit with people who I would probably never have had an opportunity to talk to previously in my life. I am not sure why this is happening more often but it might be that I am not always looking at the floor and listening to a podcast or reading a book or sleeping or avoiding eye contact, but I also think it is because I am over sixty, completely non-threatening and usually, if I am going somewhere, pretty happy.
I am at a point in my life where I can contribute a bit to those in my life but no one is entirely dependent on me. While I am hardly noticed unless it looks like I might need to sit down, I can notice all sorts of things.
A week ago I ended up talking with a woman at length, a bus and two subways worth, after an unleased dog ran at the fence to the school yard his owner had let him run in, barking rather ferociously at her. (I tend to be really scared of running dogs since having been bitten). I wanted to calm her (and myself) so I said something like, “Scary huh?” She said she had a lot of experience with dogs growing up in Jamaica and she had a heavy purse. 😉
We talked about dogs, she likes them, I don’t much, and cats, she doesn’t like them, I do, and children and being grandmothers and what each of us thinks is the most important thing to learn (my favourite question). Along the way I mentioned that I had an auntie who had always made me feel special. We were discussing the importance for children to have a safe person who will always accept them and give them space to just be children, “like grandparents do” we said in unison.
I got to my stop on the subway after a long and wonderful conversation, learning her age and history and family and her beliefs while sharing mine. We were holding hands by this time. She said, “What is your name?” I told her and asked her for her name. “Opal” she said.
That was the name of my favourite auntie!
I find a lot of joy at my age.