Get Old, Go Bold

I am stretched on the floor like a teenager. Oh, my back. I put a pillow under my knees and feel relief.

As I look up to the ceiling, I wonder why this happens in winter but never in summer.

I wonder why I hate hiking mountains in New England but can dance all night at a party.

I wonder why some friends are becoming hypochondriacs. How can I not let myself be short with them as they complain? Or, better, dare them to come along and stay engaged. Or do what they’ve never done before. Why not.

I wonder why I waited all these years to buy a good rug for the living room. It’s kind of comfortable lying on this plush New Zealand wool rug. Comfortable and beautiful. These should be my North Stars: comfortable and beautiful.

I wonder why the L2, L3, L4 “severe stenosis” doesn’t get in the way when I’m doing what I love but brings me to the floor when I’m cleaning gutters, washing bathrooms, trying to watch a movie in a cold room in February.

Turn up the heat, sweetheart.

I wonder how to turn the heat up in this last 25% of my life.

Yesterday I sent a text to my friends about the Nantucket Christmas weekend. “Yes, to a dance party. No to quiet church choral concert. YES, to dressing up for the dance party. Get old, go bold, baby.”

This morning I sent them Etsy links for magical holiday tiaras, and headdresses adorned with holly, poinsettias, and sparkly ornament and told them I was wearing a sequined gypsy skirt.

Bold silliness.

I will buy us the reddest lipstick we’ve ever allowed our pragmatic New England selves to wear.

Then I enter my credit card information for an “architecturally significant” VRBO rental in LA for April. This makes my heart race. So much money. Should we do this?

Anxiety creates heat.

I wonder why people avoid good stress. Why have they allowed themselves to succumb to the American cultural curse of predictability, convenience, and uniformity? That’s how your blood goes cold and gives meaning to “Kill me now.”

Yes, we are aging.

Hips, knees, hearts, backs, heartburn, arthritis, stenosis, and worse.

So what.

Come lay on the floor with me. Close your eyes and let’s wonder. How can we fill our lives with more even as so much is falling away? Let’s take a moment and mourn our physicality, beauty, sexuality, career status, and razor-sharp minds that never forgot a thing.

Now let’s let all that go and invite in more.

More late afternoons sitting together at the beach. More walks in the woods. More books, movies, and binge-able series that light up our next-morning texts.

“Did you see THAT coming?! What do you think is going to happen on the finale?”

Let’s invite more people to dinner.

Hire that RISD student to paint a mural on our ceiling. She needs the money. We need more bold unconventional surprises to snuff out the inevitable sad ones.

I wonder if I’m going to be able to get off this floor without my lower spine repeatedly knifing me, making me feel life. Reminding me I’m alive. That I can’t let disintegration crush my soul.

I wonder if we should wear our Christmas tiaras and headdresses to the college friends’ Christmas party.

Yes, definitely.

“You’re still crazy,” they will laugh.

We’ll let our joy and optimism run wild and multiply.

The next day we can all lay on our living room floors, not worrying about the disappointing and heartbreaking realities of our lives and the world. We will let the previous evening’s happiness soothe our back like a full-body heating pad.

Joy to the world.

I wonder why any of us would retreat at this age and try to make our worlds smaller, safer, predictable.

We need more heat.

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Lois Kelly

Lois Kelly

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Writer/artist, co-founder of “Rebels at Work.” Most happy in the wilder-ness of people, ideas and nature.