As an aside in her story today at The Elder Storytelling Place (link below), Marcia Mayo says this:
“With me at my advanced age, it had to be early and it had to be easy. I no longer like to stay up late and I don’t look forward to much of anything enough to go to much trouble to take part in it.”
Although that is not the point of Marcia's story, it was a minor Aha! moment for me. Without making a conscious decision, I have behaved in this manner for a number of years now – at least a decade.
Back in my youth – which extended into my fifties – there must have been hundreds of mornings, as the alarm clock dinged, that I regretted having been out and about into the wee hours the night before.
And I'm not even talking about having imbibed a glass or two more wine than I should have, although that was known to happen too.
It was that heavy, foggy, brain-dead feeling that comes with getting less than seven hours of sleep that I knew would infect my entire day making every small effort – walking two blocks to the subway – feel like pushing a boulder uphill. I despised that every time it happened.
What's that old joke about knowing in the morning that this is the best you're going to feel all day?
One of the great, unsung perks of retirement is that I don't set an alarm clock anymore, and further – because early mornings are the best part of the day for me – I don't stay up late at home or for almost any reason.
I don't remember now when I last ruined an entire day from too little sleep and I intend to keep it that way. Who knows how many days I have left and I want be bright and shiny for them all.
It is also the “trouble” Marcia refers to. If I am invited to a dressy occasion, how far will I need to walk in pretty shoes that god intended only for show-off purposes from the comfort of a chair? Does getting there or back involve driving on a highway at night? Or, how often do the buses run? Will it be crowded? I hate crowds.
If the event is important enough, I might hobble there in my impractical shoes, but I won't drive farther than a couple of miles – on slow-speed, familiar, city streets only - in the dark. (That's a lifelong rule. Even in my twenties, I couldn't judge distances to tail lights at night.)
Like Marcia, I find that little is compelling enough these days to go to any trouble to attend and that is particularly so if it involves an airplane.
No longer is there just one day lost to travel. It's two days, as the second is needed to recover from the exhaustion of
• Nearly undressing for the TSA
• Walking five miles each to and from the gate
• Hauling an overnight case all that way
• Sitting in a cramped space too small for child for up to six hours
• Perhaps missing a connection
• Being stuck at the airport for six hours until the next flight
• Repeat the above to return home
A total of four days lost from my life. There had better be a million-dollar check at the far end of the plane ride if you want me there.
It is also the reason I do as much shopping online as possible these days. In New York, everything I needed or wanted was in walking, subway or taxi distance and so much to see and enjoy in the getting there.
In Maine, almost everything except food was at the mall, a five-mile drive from my home on a lightly traveled highway but not much visual or mental stimulation.
And here, the necessities are scattered in several malls, all involving different, poorly marked highways and I've never not gotten lost on the way home. Yeah, yeah, yeah – I'll learn my way around in time, but it's easier to open a browser. I'll save the driving for more compelling reasons than shopping.
In addition to the trouble, it is breaking routine. Until I read that portion of Marcia's story, I hadn't realized how much I cling to routine these days and that messing with it takes a lot of planning to keep tiredness at bay.
For most of my life, I jumped at last minute invitations, eager to see friends, a show, a concert or dine at a new restaurant. Nowadays, I need time to plan to do those things, to parcel out my stamina.
What a bore that is and by extension, I am. But that's only from someone else's perspective. I'm fine with it.