Yesterday, at hour of 1 o’clock on a random Tuesday, I started working in a new position, trying to get my workflow rhythm going. I told myself I was going to implement daily naps into my schedule where some might put their lunch breaks.
But there I was, awake, blogging and listening to NPR. Why? Because I was brimming with hope and excitement while standing in the middle of a proverbial landfill fire (because, let’s face it – we graduated from the dumpster fire a while ago).
I have a lot of cool things happening professionally in my life, and I am blessed. But really, I am just grateful that I am getting older every day.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Several of my friends have turned forty in the last few months and I’ve been loving seeing their social media full of adventuresome road trips, fun hair and makeup, new romantic interests, career highs, and newly discovered hobbies.
I am so inspired by my friends – especially the caregivers and terminally ill. They aren’t allowing their age (or lack of perceived youth), family responsibilities, or their own diagnoses define or discourage them.
Caregivers – particularly those of us in our twenties and thirties – often experience FOMO, worried about all of the milestones and memorable moments our peers are having while we are taking care of a parent, grandparent, or spouse.
For ages, we’ve received these direct and subliminal messages that moments of whimsy and joy are reserved for the young and that we should concede to defeat if we haven’t gotten all of that out of our systems by the time we reach 30, 35 – maybe 40, but that’s pushing it.
Then yesterday, I saw a commercial featuring a group of friends who appeared to be in their forties, maybe even fifties, road tripping and just having a good time, jokes and all. While it may seem like an inconsequential ad for overpriced prescription drugs to some, I, for one, felt very seen. It made me feel like someone else saw the importance in making sure people know that you don’t have to lose the fun times and cool experiences when you arrive at some predetermined age, and people need to see that portrayed in popular culture.
As a caregivers, I am reminded that there is still time. But I think the concept resonates with carers and non-carers alike. Social distancing and mandated lockdowns are making a lot of people feel like every plan they had to experience joy was ruined. Don’t get me wrong: a global pandemic is indeed a sad thing. Many people have lost the ones they love and more deaths are to come.
But the opportunity to find and appreciate the simplest things life has to offer – holding someone’s hand on a brisk November evening. Eating an ice-cream cone while wrapped in the sticky air of a southern summer. Discovering a new artist and getting lost in their works. These may not be the images that get the most likes on social media (unless you’re a celebrity), but they are often the moments that, when we close our eyes and settle into the contentment and satisfaction of an event, that we return to. Not the bucket list items or the show-stopping exhibitions.
Just the still, quiet times when you are fully present, wholly aware, and immensely grateful for your alive-ness.