Who is Responsible For Boomer Blather?
"It Shouldn't Be This Way" - Long-Term Care

Getting Old and Slowing Down

category_bug_journal2.gif These days, I do some things more slowly than when I was younger.

For about five years now, I have spread out housecleaning over several days – a room or two per day. My previous, lifelong habit of tearing through the entire project on Saturday mornings had begun to tire me, but dusting, scrubbing, sweeping, vacuuming, bed changing, laundry, etc. is so tedious, I wonder now why I hadn’t thought of this before. It is not as boring when done in short spurts.

I know I walk more slowly because in the year or two before I left New York City, people had begun to pass me on the sidewalk. There aren’t enough people here in Portland, Maine, to make much of a comparison, but I doubt I’ve speeded up. Part of the reason is that I don’t see the point. What was the rush, I wonder, all those years? And there are interesting things to see.

These days, I even read more slowly. Sometimes dim light makes it difficult when I’m too lazy to get up and turn on a lamp. Still, I reread a sentence or paragraph more frequently than in the past, particularly when it is a writer I admire, to savor well-made sentences, turns of phrase and new ideas.

For 50 years I had to rush through showering in the morning to get to an office on time. Nowadays, I savor my morning shower as one of the great, small pleasures in life. I’m pretty sure I could still get through it swiftly, but why should I when there is no need and I enjoy the feel of hot water falling over my body. It's a good place, as well, to think through future blog posts.

Most of all, I am capable now of puttering away vast amounts of time, or allowing myself to become distracted in the middle of a task by something that is, for the moment, more compelling. I was, in the past, more disciplined. It’s not as though I’m less busy than when I was employed; it takes more time to turn out this blog along with outside assignments I take on than any job ever had. I’ve relaxed, it seems, about meeting deadlines – self-imposed or otherwise – and I still manage to deliver on time.

It’s hard to know if I'm slowing down due to aging or a new attitude. Certainly housecleaning and maybe walking reflect diminished stamina, but a part of my mind tells me I could still do those things at top speed if I wanted – I just don’t want to now. Perhaps retirement, when we are no longer required to live on an employer's schedule, is time to discover one's own inner clock. Of course, that clock is different from when we were young.

One of the characteristics of youth is to hurry up and experience everything - to always to be running and doing with a sense that you might miss something if you slack off. It is a paradox of aging I’ve written about before that as one’s time on earth becomes demonstrably shorter, the urgency to do as much as possible as soon as possible fades.

I don’t understand that change, but it’s handy that it appears as one’s body begins to slow down. Sometimes, though, I like to flatter myself that taking it easier is a choice brought on by the wisdom of years.


Comments

Clearly, I should re-read this day's blog daily because the slowing down, not getting much done, where-has-the-day-gone? gets me down! Much better to relax into it.

When I retired, I settled into the savoring mode immediately. Now, I take it for granted, but shouldn't. As I'm reading Flannery O'Connor's letters right now, here is a remark she made: "What you have to measure out, you observe more closely. Or so I tell myself." That close observation is something I should aspire to. Rushing less, but appreciating more is a fine goal.

When I read this post a song popped into my head - it was made famous by Frank Sinatra, but I prefer Willie Nelson's rendition. And I can already hear Crabby moaning, "Not that sappy ol' tune!"

September Song

...Oh, it's a long, long while from May to December
But the days grow short when you reach September
When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame
One hasn't got time for the waiting game

Oh, the days dwindle down to a precious few
September, November
And these few precious days I'll spend with you
These precious days I'll spend with you

I love your blog and hope you're loving Portland. Off to read more.

Just yesterday when my daughter commented on how much she had admired me when I was wearing power suits and doing the corporate thing...it made me realize--and appreciate--how much my life has changed and slowed down.

Also, how in the world did I keep up that pace?

You have got the secret, Ronni, and that is to enjoy all these slower moments. Thanks for the inspiration.

I am house-clearing before a move and going through boxes of tax returns and documents from my own power suit days a few decades ago. Most of it is headed for the shredder but the process has made me, too, reflect on what the big hurry was, exactly. I'm sorry now mainly that I worked and worried too much and didn't enjoy those years more.

Spoiler alert for Gen-X'ers and younger Boomers: This reflectiveness is not necessarily the dreaded doddering of old age. It may be hard to believe now, but it's a kind of awakening to pleasures I'm pretty sure you're missing now.

So true! I'm only 56, but I've been slowing down as well. I used to be able to go through the whole house in a day,,,,,but no more. One room at a time, one day at a time.
There will always be housework.

I'm at the stage in my life where it is all rush rush rush. Rushing to get myself and my son ready for school, rushing to fit a walk in with the dog, rushing to get the tram to work, rush here, rush there, rush everywhere.

Every now and again I have to stop and regroup, but I look forward to the time when I don't have to rush so much.

Gotta rush off..

You know, housework really isn't as important as people put it out to be. You aren't being graded on it, and doing it a little less often probably wouldn't hurt. Hey, what's a little dust?

I have slowed down and I actually enjoy it. It's like appreciating every bite of a meal instead of gobbling it up. :)

Thanks Ronni...you might want to read my thoughts on "ENERGY" as we age. I agree, it is a question of whether one is slowing down as a choice or buying into the "I can't do what I used to"...maybe try to walk faster for a week to see if it is a choice or not. Personally, I think most of the 'slowing down' conversation is our self-fulfilling expectations of aging that our culture gives us as a default.

I would love to think that I have slowed down through choice, but, alas, it is because I can no longer rush. When people started passing me I thought I was walking fast.
Nonetheless, I do enjoy my relaxed pace and savor the long mornings with the paper and my computer. As for housework, it only takes me a week to accomplish what I used to do in a day.

Now we all know the adage, "Stop and smell the roses" really has a meaning. When I once apologized to a friend to expect a messy house when she visited, she replied, "A messy house means you are taking time for yourself. Go, girl!" So I no longer apologize. I think the nicest present I can give myself is to do absolutely nothing all day but read, sit in the sun for my 15 minutes of Vitamin D, and nap!

HRonnie your letter could have been written by me.I use to walk to the library and the Billerica mall and now it is a chore.I'm even tired after washing my hair and showering.My health is okaybecause I follow the book Food Your Miracle Medicine.I dont have a doctor or dentist.The last time I saw a doctor was the birth of my last son.I'm tired but I still clean my condo.do my cooking and walk down 4 flights of stairs to do my washing Ibuy books now and take my time reading.II'm thinking of buying a washing machine this year.I get frustrated as i loose more energy but I know I have a lot to be thankful.Love,VeraHi

Ronni, Isn't this the best time of our lives. I love having the entire day to do nothing if I please and if I take too long doing nothing, I start feeling guilty and then quickly recall all the many years that I rushed to work, cook, keep a perfect house and was involved with my daughter's sports. I don't miss that time of my life one minute. I'm glad that I have arrived. Lu

Oh boy. what a delightful read. I'm still out in the workforce, and I've also learned to stretch those household chores. I'm lucky I suppose, as I don't use an alarm clock; don't even own a watch. My mornings belong to me for whatever and my run to the bank is always at my leisure after work. However, it's also midnight when I get off and noon when I get up... but I can so relate.

Slowing down is age, change of lifestyle and circumstances. And if anyone can take a slow down and appreciate what's going on around them, it is so much better.

Thanks Ronnie!

I've not only slowed down -- in some ways I've come to a dead stop in that I don't beat myself up if I don't do things right away.

"Its hard to know if I'm slowing down due to aging or a new attitude." I love the idea of a new attitude. I hate rushing. One day...

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