This has been the most difficult exploration of the three topics listed above. It’s taken me some weeks, but it’s about my experience, not anyone else’s.
This time I want to address the issue of experience.
With aging, you’d like to think that you have learned a few lessons along the way.
Experience leads to an acquiring of wisdom.
They cross over, inter-twine with each other making you the person you are. Good and/or bad.
It takes time to gather your experiences. You have to go through the good, the bad, the sad and the heartbreaking reality that as a human you are victim to countless painful experiences. With any luck, you experience a few good ones those moments where success is achieved in work or in relationship and the children you produce turn out to be reasonable human beings despite their dysfunctional upbringing. Or better still you discover contentment.
That’s the trick, isn’t it? Contentment.
Sitting comfortably in your skin aware of yourself, your failings and foibles and being happy in yourself that despite everything it hasn’t been such a bad life.
I was always told that in retirement you needed to have something to retire to, not from. I had no trouble retiring from work, I had limitations I was aware of and was glad in the end to be rid of academic paperwork.
Experts in the field of retirement told me I needed to have a sound social network, which always sounded like a good idea but was always going to be a challenge.
I never did social all that well. Connecting with other people hasn’t been my forte in life.
Friendships have eluded me and I understand why. When I was a kid I had mates with whom I spent a lot of time. Playing backyard cricket and footy, riding our bikes around the district and just largely hanging out in the safety of friends who accepted you as you were.
In adulthood, it was a different matter altogether.
Maybe it was a growing awareness of the awkwardness of puberty. The total ignorance as to what was happening to my body. I found out but long after I had been consumed by changes I didn’t understand.
By then self-consciousness had well and truly set in.
I thought marriage would be a saving grace, give me confidence and a greater understanding of women.
None of that happened, babies arrived and took over my life, what I wanted or sought was immaterial to their needs.
Friendship was something discouraged rather than encouraged. I quickly learned that asking a ‘friend’ or indeed anyone to dinner would have dire consequences.
What a self-centred selfish bastard I turned out to be.
And so I didn’t invite nor initiate any person visiting our house.
It can in hindsight be seen as a weakness but self-preservation was my more immediate consideration.
The problem was that at some stage things would come to a head, where living under such conditions would become untenable and change would occur or insanity take over.
Experience shapes us and bends us to live in a way that appears safe and secure. You do your best to deflect attention away from yourself.
Experience taught me that it was safer not to have friends, at least ones I could bring home, and so any semblance of friendship was restricted to my workplace. The above is just a snippet of my life and my experience. There is much more and I have tried not to make it an ‘Oh poor me” tale.
It’s a starting point.