Josna Rege

436. Feel-good, feeling good

In Aging, reading, reflections, seasons, Stories, Words & phrases, Work, writing on June 13, 2019 at 12:09 pm

from Friday’s Tunnel, written and illustrated by John Verney

It is a grey weekday morning. Rain is forecast, with gusty winds and temperatures 20°F below what is usual for mid-June weather, but so far it is pleasantly cool, overcast, and expectantly still. The street, too, is still, now that most of the students have left for the summer, with only the occasional dog-walker dawdling in front of the house with his cell-phone, studiously indifferent to his companion marking my newly seeded strip of lawn, and a car going by maybe once an hour, if that, and at a snail’s pace.

Yesterday I pruned the bushes out back, inexpertly and overzealously. Now the clippings lie in heaps on the terrace steps, and before the rain I ought to pull on gumboots and tick-proof clothing to dump wheelbarrow-loads of them in the copse at the end of the garden. All such a joy and a luxury now that my grades are finally in and I am officially on summer break. But instead, a lady of leisure, I have donned an old dressing-gown of Andrew’s and gone back to bed (after a breakfast of oatmeal and strawberries) to read and write. Rain looms, brush clippings beckon, and a clipboard with its fresh notepad awaits my long To Do list, but it will all just have to wait; I’m feeling good.

In ten days I will turn 65—or complete 65, as we say more accurately in Indian English—officially a Senior Citizen. I wonder, will I command greater respect, inspire pity, or simply become irrelevant? Will I cease to strive or strive with all the more urgency? Will I slow down and count my blessings, or set myself demanding new goals to keep mind and body active? I’m noticing the aches and pains in my joints, especially my thumbs, the decisiveness with which exhaustion dictates my bedtime at the end of the day, the lag before the word I want comes to me. How much more time do I have to set my house in order, to write, even to think?

As a young smart-alec, I routinely mocked and dismissed “feel-good movies” as sentimental, without any critical edge, opiates synthesized simply to attract the largest possible audience (and, of course, box-office profits) and turn their minds to mush. Yet at the same time—and I didn’t seem to notice the contradiction here—I personally avoided horror films, thrillers and tragedies. Life was horrific enough, I argued, with more than enough misery to go around; why pay to subject oneself to even more? I preferred to lose myself in romantic comedies—why? Because they made me feel good.

In an email a few years ago, Barbara, an old friend, made an observation about me  which I continually find myself returning to and mulling over; she had noticed that I didn’t want to do things I didn’t want to do. Although this may appear tautological, in fact it goes right to the heart of things. My attitude toward the feel-good movie—and perhaps to feeling good in general—is of a piece with Barbara’s penetrating insight. There are things I need to do that I must tackle with a will, whether or not I want to do so. Afterwards there will be time to relax and feel good in the knowledge that the work has been accomplished. On the other hand, there is nothing inherently wrong with doing things that make one feel good, as long as it isn’t at the expense of doing what has to be done. And it is downright counter-productive to make oneself, or others, feel bad about wanting to feel good.

I’ve looked up and it’s already raining, hard. That’s put paid to any hopes of garden clean-up today. Andrew’s just come in—he’s already tackling the To Do list I haven’t even made yet—and I’ve told him guiltily that I am about to get up and at ’em. So, signing off to face the day but feeling defiantly glad that I made the feel-good decision to go back to bed. Old and obstinate and feeling good about it!

Tell Me Another (Contents to Date)

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  1. obstinate being the keyword here, sweets- i soooo relate. greets from the brittle bones. bi.

  2. Many happy returns of the day for that bittersweet moment, but truly, though it’s a red letter day psychologically, allowing you to be Epimetheus as well as Prometheus, a few days later you can allow yourself the luxury of being an elder states-person while being no more or no less respected by those around you! The key here is, is your brain still young? I suspect, from your thoughts here, that it is, even if your body may be suggesting otherwise.

    • Oh well said, Chris. thank you! I had to look up Epimetheus and Prometheus to learn that you were referring to the forward- and backward-looking that inevitably happens on such milestone birthdays. But in truth, you were saying, every day is the same as the last in terms of who you are, and these red-letter days are just arbitrary, albeit affording one some potentially useful self-reflection.
      Thank you for your good wishes and for your vote of confidence in my old-young brain.

  3. When I turned 65, almost 6 years ago, I felt no different than I had at 60 or 50. I still did everything I always did, and with as much energy. But once I turned 70, it seemed that everything had changed; someone had switched on age. I still do most of the things I used to do, but with less energy. I have also re-discovered the pleasure of doing a jigsaw puzzle, a great way to relax and renew. And I read for longer periods than I used to. I am allowing myself to be a real senior citizen, although I do wish I had the energy I had a year ago.
    I hope you have/had a wonderful 65th birthday, Josna. Welcome to the club. 🙂

    • Thank you for having shared this, Linda. I think I’m feeling at 65 what you felt at 70, and I’m both resisting and giving in to it. Yes, jigsaw puzzles! And yes, allowing myself to just sit and read, almost as I used to when I was a girl and would get lost in a book for hours. Thank you for your birthday wishes, too, and for reminding me that this is something we all go through, part of life. Cheers! (And wow, I’m a senior citizen.)

  4. Good for you, Jojo! I have always been proud of your positive attitude and ability to get into that ready to fight mode as soon as your heckles are up. I especially love it that you are on my side. I will always be on yours, no matter the number of birthdays! Happy Birthday, old lady – I am afraid I am a year ahead of you! Respect is all I ask!!

  5. Because your blogs are always meaningful and balanced, I nominated you for the Blogger Recognition Award. You can see all the requirements at the link here:

    • Thank you so much for thinking of me, Epi! I have been taken up with family visiting from abroad, but will explore this further as soon as I can. Back to you soon, and thanks again!

  6. I haven’t been reading any blogs lately and what a way to re-start!

    I’ll be 60 next year and the tumult of last year is yet to completely die down. I had to change everything I did in June 2018. Food, what I could eat, when I could eat it being the one of two big things. Then the 7 days a week exercise regime I had to insert. This takes up an enormous amount of time and a year later, I’m still trying to find time to do the things I want to do.

    Like writing. 15+ short stories in various stages of completion lie untouched. One Bluish Egg, Vol 1 of my memoirs sits at 73K words. All those travelogues of trips to France and England are also lying in drafts of varying lengths.

    The play I wrote languishes on Amazon. I have no time available to market it.

    Now, I’m waiting to see an eye specialist who will advise what surgery options exist for my right eye.

    On the flip side, I’m off to Italy in September.

    Also, I’m kind of looking forward to the idea of wearing a monocle 🙂 I shall wear it on a string and whip it out when I need to show extreme disapproval.

  7. Oh, and happy birthday! Late, but hey, SloWord

    • Thank you, much appreciated! Good for you, taking care of your health. I’m realizing belatedly how critically important that is. Here’s to both of us finding time to write! J

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