Sunday, August 30, 2015

What's the hardest thing about growing old?

It's been said that growing old 'ain't for sissies', and I have to agree. Not much about it is fun, down here in my income range anyway. I have friends in the income stratosphere who travel around the world, many trips every year to various far away places. They are filled with energy and good health and love of life. I, on the other hand, live with a lot of frustration. Whine.

You'd think that health issues might be the hardest part of aging, and of course, for too many of us, health is indeed an issue. I'm fortunate in that regard, although I certainly work at maintaining good health and have done so for 50 years. Guess it's paying off.

I knew, deep down inside, that the toughest thing I was likely to face in retirement was boredom, and that's certainly been the case, although it goes deeper than boredom, into deep frustration. Frustration that I can't afford to do much of anything -- travel of almost any kind is rare, even a drive to the coast for a day. That takes gas, and gas costs money, and I don't have any extra money. I'm generally happy if I make it to the end of the month with food in the house, and it's budgeted very carefully throughout the month. No whines about this -- I knew what I was getting into when I retired, although I did think I'd have more luck in finding part-time work to supplement my income enough to add a little fun.

The reason I bring this up now is because in watching (addictively!) the Exploration Ship Nautilus as it travels, watching the water and land and new places, the things they do in deep water, and listening to the various people on watch as they talk during dives, I want to be there. I would dearly love to spend some time on that ship, be a part of what they do for awhile. My age and income aren't really factors here -- I simply can't think of anything in my background that would lend itself to their mission in a useful way. Alas. They are open to questions and salutations and to listeners joining into their conversation when they are broadcasting, and they get many questions from others who'd like to join. Age, they say, is not a factor.

And it doesn't stop there. Recently I've been aware of how strong my sense of adventure still is, how deep my curiosity about the world and everything that's going on out there is. Remember when I wanted to go to Thailand for awhile to live and study? I'd still love that, but I realized eventually that I just didn't have the necessary gumption to go that far away with such meager resources. I'd have to sell my car, and then how would I ever buy another one when I eventually return to the states? There were just too many dead ends. Realities.

There is so much I'd still love to do, places to see, things to experience. I don't think it would take a lot more money than I have, but it would definitely take more to make me feel comfortable. And a better cushion in the bank. So I sit in frustration, knowing those things are not in the cards for me in this lifetime. And knowing that, I accept the reality. But that doesn't totally quash the adventurous spirit and curiosity. They are alive and well!

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